The scent of simmering marinara sauce or lasagna baking in the oven might make your stomach growl, but Italian home chefs beware: If your kitchen smells are too overpowering, you could face a hefty fine. In a case that went all the way up to the highest court in Italy, the country that’s most famous for its odoriferous culinary masterpieces just outlawed stinky cooking. If you commit the crime now known as “olfactory molestation” you may be ordered to pay a fine of up to 2,000 euros, according to The Telegraph.
The ruling originated from a neighborly spat in which residents of an apartment block complained that a couple who lived in the building were consistently cooking up stinky seafood dishes like fritti misti, which is mixed fried seafood.
The judges in Rome described the couple’s cooking as “beyond the limits of tolerability” because “the emission of odors and noises in the overhead apartment on the third floor” would consistently waft to other apartments. One neighbor said during the testimony, “The whole of my apartment became impregnated with the smell of the pasta sauce and the fried fish. It felt like their kitchen was in my flat.”
The Court of Cassation ordered the couple to pay a 2,000-euro fine.
“The courts have to strike the right balance (between people creating the smells and those complaining about them),” Matteo Santini, an Italian lawyer who specializes in neighborly quarrels, told the Italian newspaper La Republica. “There was a man who wanted to prosecute his neighbor because she cooked chicken soup at eight in the morning.”