On Tuesday, Florence passed a new ordinance banning tourists and locals alike from eating on the sidewalks, curbs, and doorsteps of the city's historic center. Disregard the rules, and you could face fines anywhere between €150 to 500 (approximately $174 to 580).
Before you say goodbye to your daydreams of indulging in a delightful cup of hazelnut gelato while strolling along the Arno river, you can put your worries to rest. According to The Local, the law is enforced between 12 - 3pm and 6 - 10pm, and it only affects four streets near the Uffizi Galleries and the Palazzo Vecchio: Via de' Neri, Via della Ninna, Piazzale degli Uffizi, and Piazza del Grano.
In a city that's home to arguably some of the best panini, pizza, and gelato in the world, visitors may feel like this new law puts a damper on their culinary tour of Italy — but the ordinance, as Mayor Dario Nardella, said in a Facebook post, is "not a punitive measure but a deterrent."
These measures are designed to cut down on both litter and crowding. On Via de' Neri, for instance, are two of the city's most popular eateries: a sandwich shop, All'Antico Vinaio, and Gelateria dei Neri. Because neither shop offers enough seating for the influx of visitors they cater to every day, customers tend to take their lunch, dinner, and snacks to the streets right outside. Due to the narrow size of the streets and the number of people passing through this high-traffic area, however, the streets have become difficult to navigate.
This new law comes just one year after Mayor Nardella's initiative to hose the city's church steps to discourage tourists from "[eating] their food and [leaving] rubbish strewn on them."
Local business owners and shopkeepers have been given signs explaining the rules in both Italian and English. "Respect residents, traders and workers of this street," they announce in bold, red print.
Volunteers of the National Observatory for Urban Security are currently patrolling the streets from 12:30 - 3:30pm, Thursday to Sunday, to ensure that the rules are being kept, local newspaper La Nazione reported.
This ordinance is scheduled to remain in effect until January 6, at which time its effectiveness will be revisited. "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," Mayor Nardella said.
Roberta Pieraccioni, president of the Via de' Neri committee, told La Nazione that the stricter rules will hopefully "restore a bit of decorum" to the area.