Tourists in Florence are facing fines of up to £450 if they are seen eating on the street. The new laws, which took effect this week, prohibit food from being consumed on four historic streets in downtown Florence.
Local businesses have been announcing the ban with signs that warn hungry visitors, “Respect residents, traders and workers of this street.” According to The Local, the ban will be enforced from 12 to 3 pm and between 6 and 10 pm and will remain in place for four months. The streets where the ban is in effect are Via de' Neri, Piazzale degli Uffizi, Piazza del Grano, and Via della Ninna.
Florence, like most of Italy, is known for its fine dining and also its savory snacks, but locals have grown weary of tourists eating on the sidewalk and loitering outside restaurants. “It’s not a punitive measure but a deterrent,” Mayor Dario Nardella said. “If tourists behave in Florence as they would at home then they will always be welcome, especially if they want to try our gastronomic specialties.”
This is not the first time that Nardella has courted controversy with his laws concerning tourists. Last year, he said the city would take action against tourists who leave trash outside the city’s iconic churches by hosing down the steps at midday. He said the measure was an effort to dissuade people from “camping out” at historic sites at lunchtime and leaving greasy wrappers and beer bottles on the steps.
In other cities in Italy, such as Rome, there has also been a crackdown on tourists who misbehave. Authorities are contemplating fencing off the legendary Spanish Steps to protect them from the “barbarian” masses. Last year, the city considered banning tourists from loitering next to the Trevi Fountain to take action against illegal swimmers.
In Venice, police patrol the city streets looking for unruly tourists who sit on church steps to eat, and in Milan, visitors have been banned from taking pictures with selfie sticks.
Last month, police in Italy were searching for two English-speaking tourists who jumped into the fountain at the Altare della Patria in Rome, which commemorates the reunification of Italy and is the resting place of an unknown soldier killed in WWI.
The two men posed for pictures in the fountain in their underwear, and at one point, one of the men pulled down his underwear. Police had asked for help from foreign consulates to identify the men, yet so far no arrests have been made.
The police state that the men’s actions, "seriously offend the national sentiment and memory of the fallen to whom the monument is dedicated.” Italy's interior minister, Matteo Salvini, added on Twitter, "I would know how to 'educate' these idiots if they get caught, Italy is not their bathroom!"