ROME: What could more typical of an Italian holiday than sitting in a sun-soaked piazza or the on steps of a grand cathedral, and tucking into a Gelato, Panino or Pizza?
Well, if you’re in Florence, you can forget that — or be prepared to pay for it. The Renaissance city is cracking down on visitors who eat on footpaths, doorsteps or driveways at lunch and dinner times, threatening them with fines of up to $800 if they do so. The new ordinance aims to combat “boorish tourists”, Florence mayor Dario Nardella said.
The ordinance goes into effect this week, for certain times of day, covering lunch and dinner times — midday to 3pm, and 6pm to 10pm.
It also applies to certain streets, including those around the famous Uffizi Galleries and the popular deli All’Antico Vinaio (the Old Wine Merchant) in Florence’s historic centre. It is valid through to the end of the Italian holiday season on January 6 and may continue after that.
“Violation of this regulation will be punished with fines of €150-€500 ($240-$800),” the council said.
Signs advertising the new rule have been put up in eateries around the city.
“The new rule is not aimed at tourism in general but at uneducated visitors who camp in the streets with their lunch,” Mr Nardella told The Times.
The bylaw will apply to certain streets in Florence, such as around the famous Palazzo Vecchio.
He also told The Telegraph: “It’s not a punitive measure, but a deterrent. If tourists behave in Florence as they would at home then they will always be welcome, especially if they want to try our gastronomic specialities.”
Tourists often take to eating their takeaway food in public places to avoid the high costs of eating at cafes and restaurants in major Italian cities.
Last month, a tourist in Venice was shocked to discover he’d been charged $67 for two small coffees and two 250ml bottles of water at a cafe near St Mark’s Square — all because he’d decided to enjoy his purchases in the cafe’s outdoor seating area.
Florence’s new eating rule comes as the city struggles to deal with a massive rise in the number of holiday-makers attracted by low-cost flights and affordable accommodation — and the rubbish they leave behind.
Last year, Mr Nardella announced that the steps of the Renaissance city’s most popular churches would be hosed down with water around lunchtime, so people wouldn’t be able to sit down and eat their lunch there.
It’s one of a number of heavy-handed new rules Italian cities have enforced to target badly behaved tourists.
Last year the mayor of Rome signed an order aimed at protecting its ancient fountains, some of which had been vandalised or soiled over the years.
Tourists caught climbing on, bathing in, or picnicking near the capital’s monumental fountains risk fines up to $355.
“Everyone must respect Rome’s beauty,” Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi said of the ban.
And Venice recently began threatening tourists with fines of between $30 and $590 if they swam in canals, made picnic stops out of public areas, paused too long on bridges, dropped litter, rode bikes through the city or went sightseeing in swimsuits.