Drink to Mafia's bad health at Rome's Dolce Vita cafe

Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:54am EST
 
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By Philip Pullella

ROME (Reuters Life!) - During the heady days of the Dolce Vita in the 1960s, Rome's Cafe de Paris was one of the preferred watering holes of starlets and sultans.

Later, one of the places that gave the world the word paparazzi fell into decline along with the rest of Rome's famed Via Veneto and two years ago it hit bottom when police discovered it was a mafia money-laundering front and confiscated it.

It marked a rebirth on Monday when, in association with one of Italy's leading anti-Mafia groups, the famed sidewalk cafe and restaurant started serving wines, pasta and other foods produced on lands confiscated from the Mafia throughout southern Italy.

Now, visitors to Rome can eat and drink to the Mafia's bad health in the same place that inspired the late director Federico Fellini to make the classic 1960 film "La Dolce Vita," while helping Italy's anti-mafia movement.

"The new administrators want the cafe to offer products that are not only good but just," said Father Luigi Ciotti of the anti-Mafia group Libera, which runs cooperative farms on lands confiscated from the mob.

"This has great significance because this turns the whole situation of this place on its head," he said in the cafe that was one of the places from where actor Marcello Mastroianni set off to cover the jet set with his trusty sidekick photographer Paparazzo.

"It helps the search for trust and justice," he said as cafe, police and judicial administrators unveiled the collaboration with Libera, which will benefit from the purchase of the products.

Among other products, patrons can order red wine from the Centopassi cooperative near Corleone, the Sicilian hill town made famous in the Godfather films, or eat pasta made from wheat grown on property confiscated from organized crime near Naples.   Continued...

 
<p>A man walks near the Cafe De Paris on Via Veneto in Rome July 23, 2009. REUTERS/Tony Gentile</p>