If you’re heading to Florence, be careful about tucking into your lunch while out and about as a new ban has come into effect on particular streets to prevent visitors from eating on pavements and doorsteps. The ban applies from noon to 3pm and from 6pm to 10pm daily, and those who fail to adhere to it could face fines of between €150 and €500 ($173 to $578).
The new rule applies to anyone caught eating on any of four streets that run through the Italian city’s historic centre – Via de’ Neri, Piazzale degli Uffizi, Piazza del Grano and Via della Ninna. It comes a year after the city’s mayor, Dario Nardella, had street cleaners hosing down the steps of two historic sites to prevent people from snacking on them. Those sitting on Chiesa di Santo Spirito and Santa Croce basilica, which contains the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli, were likely to end up soggy rear ends.
The problem has arisen because Florence doesn’t have many public benches, so visitors often choose to eat while squatting on the kerb or crouching in public doorways. Aside from causing a litter problem, it can make the narrow streets hard to navigate. The streets in question are home to several very popular eateries that cater for people who want to eat on the go, and local businesses and residents are unhappy about the situation.
The new rule has come into immediate effect and will remain in place until at least next January. Shopkeepers in the affected areas have been encouraged to put up signs in Italian and English to warn visitors of the consequences of flouting the law. Other cities have implemented rules of their own to police mass tourism, including Rome, which banned people from eating, paddling and washing pets in its fountains.