|Buying cheese in Roma (photo by Eric Molina)|
Ciao Plastic Bags
One of the greatest delights of vacationing in Italy is shopping, whether it be for ceramic bowls, fresh fruit or designer fashions. But you're going to have to do a bit more planning before you hit the stores in 2011. As of January 1, it is illegal for Italian stores to give out plastic bags. Stores are being allowed to use up those they have in stock, but after that shoppers will be left to juggle their purchases on their own. Meaning that tourists are well advised to pack a foldable, small extra bag in their luggage to take along on their daily outings.
In today's USAToday piece on the topic the author, and several readers, pointed out that similar bans already exists in Mexico City, San Francisco and Toronto; and that fees for plastic bags have cut their use by as much as 50% in China and Ireland. (Other areas where the plastic bags are being taxed include North Carolina's Outer Banks, a number of cities in California, and on the Hawaiian islands of Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kauai.)
Just after the turn of the New Year, Spain joined a number of other European countries in banning smoking in all "enclosed public spaces". That includes restaurants, bars and, interestingly, hotel rooms. Hoteliers are being asked to reserve no more than 30% of their rooms for the use of smokers, so if you need a room to light up in, you may need to make reservations earlier rather than later.
As the daughter of a mother with emphysema, caused by years of smoking, I applaud Spain's decision which will safeguard the health of restaurant and hotel workers (as well as other patrons of these establishments). And hey, I can't think of a lovelier place to kick the nicotine habit. Maybe this will be incentive for smokers to plan a Spanish vacation soon.
Happy New Year to all, by the way!