Amorous Italians — many well into their 30s but still living at home — are used to taking matters to the parking lot.
But love in a Fiat can be dangerous, news reports of “coppiette” (they’re affectionately called “little couples,” a reference to their youth) being robbed or worse in secluded spots are fairly frequent.
What to do?
Institutionalize lover’s lane. Well, at least lover’s parking lot. In 2003, I wrote for Newsweek about the first parking lot of love organized by city officials in Vinci and though I’m the last person looking for a clean, well-lit place for outdoor nookie, I’m kind of on the beat now.
As far as I know, the original parking lot for lovers in Vinci is still open, but though the need is still there the idea hasn’t spread. Predictably, Catholic officials protest vociferously every time someone tries to open one.
An entrepreneur was all set to launch a love haven complete with privacy stalls last Valentine’s day (how romantic!), but authorities shut him down over nebulous “building code issues” and before anyone could even neck in a Lancia there.
But as I said, the market is hot and heavy. Another petting park is slated to open this New Year’s eve, this time in Bagnolo Cremasco, about 25 miles southeast of Milan on a state road known for a florid prostitution business and vicinity to night clubs.
This one is called Luna Parking and by far is the most expensive and elaborate variation on the theme. It costs €10 (about $14.50) for 90 minutes in a private covered box — enough time to perfect maneuvers around the gear shift for most — plus there are bathrooms and even snack machines. I haven’t seen pictures of it, but it was designed by a local architect who Google tells me previously worked on the restoration of a nearby church.
Stay tuned to find out whether this semi-al fresco love spot opens or stalls.