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Florence to have $500 fines for tourists who eat on the street

The onslaught of hungry tourists in the popular Italian destination has led to desperate measures from the mayor to stop the bothersome focaccia feasting.

Mass tourism in Florence is real. Last year, the city received an impressive 10 million visitors, all hungry to see the sights and enjoy the famous cuisine of metropolitan Tuscany.

However starting next year, tourists digging into a panini or pizza on the pavement in central Florence may be in for an expensive lunch. Penalties for eating in the streets will apply from noon-3pm and from 6pm-10pm and range from €150-€500 (about US$173-US$577 or AUS$242-AUS$808).

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Only certain areas in the city centre will fall under the ban, which targets the area around a hugely popular delicatessen, All’ Antico Vinaio.

The tourist hotspot, located between the renowned Uffizi Gallery and the medieval Palazzo Vecchio, is known for their street, particularly their sandwiches. A notable lack of benches and public seating in the area, however, forces many of its customers to enjoy their lunch crouched on the kerb.

This seems to have caused distress for some shop owners in the area whose storefronts and doorways are being obscured by street diners. A tourist tussle between a hungry family and an irate shop owner was the last straw for the law.

Mayor Dario Nardella signed the new ordinance, which the council said to be in the name of “decorum.” The bylaw will apply until January next year, and may be extended, pending success of the approach.

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Shopkeepers in the area are being encouraged to explain the law to tourists with signs in Italian and English.

Tommaso Mazzanti, owner of All’ Antico Vinaio, understands the need for the crackdown. “We’ll distribute maps to our customers to show them where they can go and eat without risking a fine,” he told newspaper La Repubblica.

Nardella, meanwhile, has made it clear that this should not discourage visitors to the city. “They will always be welcome, especially if they want to try our gastronomic specialties,” he said, adding that the ordinance is “not a punitive measure, but a deterrent.”

Florence’s mayor is not the first leader to suggest a ban related to Italian food. In 2017, Iceland’s President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson said that Hawaiian Pizza should be banned.

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