Rome's historic Bar della Pace near Piazza Navona is at risk of closure over difficulties relating to the renewal of its lease.
In recent days residents, tourists and representatives from citizens' associations staged a sit-in protest outside the popular bar on Via della Pace, under the slogan "Save the historic shops". The group has been collecting signatures in a bid to save Bar della Pace from being turned into a hotel, according to the reported intentions of its owners, a German religious institution.
The protesters were joined by Bar della Pace manager Daniela Serafini whose family, for 52 years, has run the fashionable bar favoured by Italian and international celebrities such as Madonna, Mel Gibson, Spike Lee and Monica Bellucci.
Serafini told La Repubblica newspaper that the process leading to the current situation began in 2009 when the owners failed to renew the lease for the ground-floor property. Serafini said that an eviction notice arrived on 10 June and that a court case is scheduled for 11 July.
Associations for the protection of the capital's historic shops are protesting the impending closure of some of the city's most well-known stores and bars, including the Bazzocchi shirt shop on Via del Tritone which was founded in 1907. They are appealing to the new city government to offer assistance to the centro storico shop keepers, many of whom are struggling to pay high rents in a time of economic crisis.
The protesters cited the high-profile closure of the historic Caffè Maneschi on Via del Corso last autumn after it was no longer able to meet its monthly rent of almost €45,000.