Why You Need to Be Careful Where You Eat in Florence
It’s a common sentiment when sightseeing: You want to save time and save money, so when it comes to meals, you just grab something simple and eat it on the go. In fact, it’s such a common travel technique that Florence, Italy, has had to ban eating outdoors on four of its most popular streets.
This isn’t “al fresco” dining we’re talking about. Apparently, the major Italian tourist destination and home to Michelangelo’s David became so frustrated with people stopping to snack on sidewalks, doorsteps, and even in the middle of road that, as of September 4, the city has enacted fines of up to about $580 for anyone caught eating on four heavily trafficked roads in its historic center—Via de' Neri, Piazzale degli Uffizi, Piazza del Grano and Via della Ninna—between noon to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. These new regulations are slated to be in effect for at least the next four months.
The new rules are intended not only to make the street more navigable but also to reduce the inevitable litter that these crowds leave behind. However, though the visitors are getting the blame, some of these issues are a two-way street (figuratively speaking). As Italy’s The Local points out, these tourist hot spots are also a great location for popular eateries like the sandwich shop All'Antico Vinaio and gelato joint Gelateria dei Neri—neither of which are apparently worried about providing enough seating to help alleviate the issue. As a result, some opponents of the new regulations suggest that the city could do more—like offering more seating areas—instead of threatening fines.
Still, Florence Mayor Dario Nardella tried to play down the idea of busting tourist just for eating a sandwich. “It's not a punitive measure but a concrete deterrent,” he posted to Facebook. “If tourists behave themselves as they would at home they'll always be our welcome guests, especially if they want to sample our gastronomic specialties.” As for sampling Italian hospitality… well… that one’s a bit more up in the air at this point.