Zesjarigen roken eens per jaar

In een klein middeleeuws plaatsje, net ten noorden van Rome, wordt één keer per jaar het feest van St. Antonius gevierd.

Eén keer per jaar mogen de kinderen hier tijdens het festival, waar grote vreugdevuren worden opgezet, de hele dag sigaretten roken.

Every year, like many towns and villages across Italy, they light a bonfire as part of the festival of St Anthony, which is also celebrated with the blessing of animals to bring prosperity in the year ahead.

But unlike other places, once the fire is burning in the square, the town’s inhabitants use it to light cigarettes.

The Italian Government may have fallen into line with many other countries around the world this month, introducing a tough new law banning smoking in bars and restaurants, but that did not stop the people of Capena.

As in previous years, the most eager participants were children, some as young as six.

Even the official brochure about the town talks of how characteristic it is to see everyone, “even the children” smoking throughout the day.


Nine-year-old Emanuel proudly announces that he doesn’t smoke for St Anthony because it is bad for him.

The rest of his friends though, are very much into the tradition.

“I like smoking,” says 10-year-old Tancredi. 

BBC reportage

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