The Italian city is imposing a €500 fine for eating in some popular, crowded areas.
As of September 6, anyone caught eating food outdoors during peak hours in four central streets in the Tuscan capital could face a fine of up to €500. When a city proposes a penalty this steep for the modest crime of nibbling on a snack, it’s clear that tempers must be running high—and indeed they are.
Florence’s latest rule is part of an ongoing wave of Italian measures intended to manage tourist pressures and curb anti-social behavior in general, a wave that shows no sign of having crested yet. Two years ago, the city banned non-local food from the city center, while last summer the mayor threatened to attack visitors eating on the cathedral steps with a hose. Elsewhere in the country, cities have banned kebabs, al fresco drinking, and even late-night ice cream in a bid to preserve a sense of decorum and public order. As CityLab discussed last year, there’s sometimes a darker side to these bans, which have served to create rules that can unjustly target marginal groups and to pass the buck for years of bad official planning onto individuals. In this specific case, however, Florence’s new fines do make some sense.
That’s because inner Florence’s streets are full, and tensions caused by their congestion are starting to boil over. The four specific streets chosen (Via de' Neri, Piazzale degli Uffizi, Piazza del Grano, and Via della Ninna) are narrow and extremely busy—even Street View images of the Via dei Neri show it full to bursting.