Andrew Scott’s ‘Hot Priest’ is rescuing Italian newsstands from sales slump this season

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulDec 28, 2023 | 15:41

Andrew Scott’s ‘Hot Priest’ is rescuing Italian newsstands from sales slump this season

Traditional Italian “edicola” newsstands are undergoing a curious transformation fuelled by the changing dynamics of media consumption and the challenges posed by mass tourism. Because why sell papers when you can have a calendar featuring Vatican hotties, right?


As the iconic Italian fixtures face closures due to declining newspaper sales and shifts in consumer habits, some are turning to unconventional items, such as the wildly popular "Hot Priest" calendars, to entice customers and stay relevant.


Inspired by the captivating portrayal of the ‘Hot Priest’ by Andrew Scott in Phoebe Waller Bridge’s acclaimed Fleabag, these calendars have become a cultural phenomenon, attracting attention not just for their unconventional subject matter but also for their role in keeping newsstands afloat. 

The Calendario Romano, featuring black-and-white images by photographer Piero Pazzi, showcases the allure of handsome Vatican priests reminiscent of Scott's character. 


Despite the controversy surrounding the products, Pazzi claims it's all about promoting Rome and the calendars have garnered significant demand, with tourists and locals alike swooning over the charismatic depictions of Catholic clergy.

Proceeds from sales are directed towards supporting a group dedicated to helping those who have experienced abuse at the hands of religious and institutional authorities. While some may view the product as provocative, Pazzi sees it as a unique way to showcase Rome and its cultural richness.


Decline in sales

The decline of traditional newsstand offerings, particularly newspapers, is a multifaceted issue. The prevalence of digital media has led to a sharp decrease in newspaper sales, with more people turning to online platforms for their news. In Italy, where over five million newspapers were sold daily in 2007, the number has dwindled to around two million.

City centres, once abuzz with stacks of La Gazzetta dello Sport, are now overrun with tourists grabbing plastic centurion helmets and "I Love Rome" fridge magnets. Because, obviously, when you visit the Trevi Fountain, what you really want is a thirst trap memento of a handsome Vatican priest.

And let's not forget the gruelling life of a newsstand owner. Long hours, dwindling profits, and a generational gap that even the sultriest priest couldn't bridge. Young Italians, it seems, would rather swipe left on a newspaper kiosk and opt for more lucrative and less time-consuming endeavours.

To navigate these challenges, newsstand owners are diversifying their offerings beyond newspapers and tickets. The inclusion of face masks, toys, trinkets, and selfie sticks illustrates a broader effort to appeal to a changing customer base.

While the fate of newsstands hangs in the balance, the ‘Hot Priest’ calendar and its cohorts are here to remind us that in Italy, even the decline of traditional news can't extinguish the eternal flame of questionable souvenirs and the struggle for survival.

Last updated: December 28, 2023 | 15:41
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