05/09/2018 14:10 BST | Updated 05/09/2018 14:53 BST

Florence Tourists Face Fines of €500 For Snacking In The Street

"You can walk while eating, but you cannot stop."

Michael Gottschalk via Getty Images

Tourists could find themselves slapped with a hefty fine if they are caught snacking on the streets of one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations. 

Visitors to Florence will face fines of up to €500 if they are caught eating on the pavement on four main streets in the city’s historic centre during peak lunch and dinner times. 

“You can walk while eating, but you cannot stop,” said a city spokesman. 

Local businesses have been asked to put a new bilingual poster about the restrictions on prominent display in their windows.

“It is forbidden to eat any kind of food just stopping and staying on sidewalks, on doorsteps of shops and houses and on roadways ... Respect residents, traders and workers of this street,” the poster reads. 

City of Florence

The restrictions apply during peak lunch and dinner times, from 12-3pm and 6-10pm on the streets of Via de’ Neri, Piazzale degli Uffizi, Piazza del Grano and Via della Ninna and will remain in place for at least four months.

Dario Nardella, the mayor, introduced the measure as the numbers of tourists who visit the city continues to swell. 

Last summer, Nardella also ordered the steps of churches in Florence to be regularly hosed down to stop tourists lunching on them.

He told The Times: “The new rule is not aimed at tourism in general but at uneducated visitors who camp in the streets with their lunch.

“Right now residents cannot get into their houses because of the tourists eating on their doorsteps.”

The rule was introduced after a shopkeeper was beaten by Spanish tourists after he tried to stop them picnicking in his store’s doorway.

Residents’ associations have been demanding action on “hit and run” visitors, who they say clog up the narrow streets and leave litter behind, according to the president of the Via de’ Neri committee, Roberta Pieraccioni. 

She told told La Nazione that they hoped the new measures would “restore a bit of decorum to our street”.