News in Italy – Tourists Fined for Eating Snacks on Rome’s Mounuments

Rome’s Colosseum

As of  October 1 Rome’s Mayor , Gianni Alemanno passed a law prohibiting eating certain foods in and around the monuments in the historic center of Rome.

Snacking tourists fined after Rome declares ‘War on the Sandwich’ – World News

By Claudio Lavanga, NBC News     ROME — It’s one of the highlights of any trip to Rome: Sitting on the Spanish Steps eating a real Italian gelato. But on Oct. 1, it became a potentially costly vacation memory.

The mayor of the “eternal city” has made it illegal to eat snacks and junk food on or around its monuments.

Tourists will still be allowed to eat while they walk, but stop with a bag of chips in your hands or sit down while chewing on your panino, and you are eligible for a fine of 25 to 500 euros ($32 to $650). An Italian daily newspaper dubbed it the “War on the Sandwich.”

Dressed in their white and blue uniforms, local police officers Alessio Valentini and Magdi Adib were on patrol Thursday looking for anyone daring to flout the new law.

They shoved away a group of young Dutch tourists who sat next to the Colosseum to enjoy their pizzas. “Go, go,” Adib told the bemused boys, who didn’t know which crime they had committed.

‘Out of control’

The officers told NBC News they had fined seven tourists — all foreigners — since the morning. The standard penalty was 50 euros ($65).

Tourists eating gelato on the streets of Rome

Tourists enjoy ice cream in central Rome on July 30, before the new decree came into force. (Andreas Solaro / AFP – Getty Images)

“We could have given tickets to many more, but you have to apply some reason,” Adib said. “If they drink a bottle of water it’s OK, but if they camp out, we fine them.”

“Eating on monuments can really get out of control,” he added. “Once I caught a group of tourists who set a table on the Spanish Steps, with table cloth and cutlery! This has to stop.”

Valentini agreed with his partner. “I once caught a tourist chopping a watermelon in the fountain at Piazza Navona,” he told NBC News. “Now we have a way to stop them.”

Rome’s leaning Colosseum has experts worried. A young German tourist, who was sitting nearby and eating a sandwich, couldn’t believe it at first when told about the decree.

“What? It’s full of food carts around here … where am I supposed to eat?” he said. Tourists sitting on the Spanish Steps shared his bewilderment.

Both a Chinese tourist eating ice cream from a cup and a Romanian digging from a bag of chips while admiring the sunset over Via Condotti pointed out that there were no signs explaining the new law and asked how were they supposed to know about the rule.

When asked about this complaint, three local policemen patrolling the area told NBC News that there was no need for a sign. “It’s common sense,” one officer said. “You can’t dirty such a beautiful and historical monument with ice cream and bread crumbs just because you can sit on it.”

They too had handed out many fines, but worried that in the end the penalty would not be paid. “Most of them are foreigners, so I doubt they will pay the ticket before they go back to their countries,” the officer said. “It’s more likely they’ll keep it as a souvenir.”

via Snacking tourists fined after Rome declares ‘War on the Sandwich’ – World News.

9 Responses

  1. oh dear! not really! would be funny except for the money!

  2. The policemen are right: “..It’s common sense” Unfortunately the touristy areas of Italy are being thought of -by tourists- as Disneyland. By most Italians’ upbringing, it is not proper to eat and drink while driving, walking, and snacking between meals (unless you eat a fruit, a pastry, gelato while sitting at a proper table) is frowned upon as having poor manners. That’s why Italy is filled with outdoor cafe’s! Conversely, the mayor of Rome should not allow food vendors to encourage this ill mannered behavior. For the most part, you won’t find Italians tourists in America eating out of food carts: not only is it not hygienic, but Italians, for the most part, really adhere to eating and drinking at a table. Reverence should be the norm around monuments!

  3. I like Lori’s comments. Keep in mind, you can be fined and/or arrested for eating in the subway in Washington D.C.

  4. On our trip we ate alot of picnics in piazzas or parks during the day, because we were travelling for 2 months we could not afford to always eat at a cafe or restaurant. We were asked to move from Piazza del Campo in Siena, only to see the police walk right by other groups of tourists clearly doing the same and we had bought ready made panini from a nearby store so the message can be a little inconsistent in application. I think that although it may be considered ‘common sense’ to not eat around the monuments such as in St Marks Square in Venice or on the Spanish Steps, there are probably other areas where the boundaries are not so clear and perhaps some signage is required. We purchased food and gelati from many little ‘holes in the wall’ type places where no seating was supplied and so we had to find some steps or a wall to sit on, what other option is there?

    • Most tourists are not aware that most cities and towns have lovely parks within practically a couple of blocks of any one place, which offer benches and shady trees. That’s an option. The other is to eat a out of the way trattoria (s) found everywhere: trattoria(s) are family owned establishments that are small, rustic in decor, but clean, and offer great food and house wines at very inexpensive prices. It does take a bit of research or willingness to inquire at the hotel or ask shop keepers. If you must snack, honestly, the other option is to simply stand where you purchased the food item and consume it there. Obviously tourists do not revere ancient Italian monuments (after all Italy houses over 65% of the world’s historical monuments) as much as Italians or art historians do. The real question should be:” What is so pressing that would not allow someone to eat breakfast, then plan lunch or dinner before or after visiting historical monuments?” Not to sound redundant, it goes back to tourists unknowingly not really being conscientious of what they are standing before: HISTORY–fragile monuments that have withstood thousand of years…..What a fate to be trampled upon while food and wrappers, straws and napkins litter these magnificent gems..victims of Disney-World mentality! This is very painful for us (Italians). Ideally, the cities do have a responsibility to inform tourists. There are some signs posted in main cities such as Venice and Florence. Others such as Rome have just put this law into place. I would suggest anyone traveling to Italy do a bit of research on the internet. By simply Goggling “Italy travel advisories” tourists can find a list of sites that warn of local laws and ordinances, parking restrictions, fines, etc. It takes only a willingness to do so and when in doubt, use common sense!

      • All good points, it does require research before travelling although many think that this spoils the spontaneity of travel, knowing the local laws is essential, plenty of Australian travellers have gotten into trouble overseas because they didn’t bother to research the laws of their destination. I abhor littering of any kind whether it be around historical monuments or in our local area at home, if I can’t find a bin then I carry the rubbish with me until I can dispose of it.

        We were lucky in that we generally had the time to look around for somewhere quiet and relaxing to eat, but eating out 3 times a day in addition to all the other costs of travel was not affordable for us. I think that many tourists are so busy trying to cram all the museums, galleries and historical sites into 1 or 2 days and they don’t give themselves enough time to sit and relax.

        As tourists, my husband and I certainly do revere the historical monuments, although our indigenous history dates back 20-30 thousand years our country was only settled by the English 224 years ago so being in the presence of such amazing art and architecture was incredible. It is sad that the behaviour of some tourists ruins it for everyone else and gives you a bad impression of all tourists when there are those that try very hard to do the right thing.

  5. Anonymous

    nothing too surprising there. italians are smug and arrogant, why not fine someone an outrageous amount for a trivial offence. present-day italians should wonder what they can do rather than show contempt for those who dont have their history. and by the way, is it really “their” histpry or do they just happen to be on the receiving end of inheritance. arrogant jerks, think so highly of themselves

    • I can see that this post has generated some controversy and while I welcome all comments I would remind those commenting to be respectful of others’ views and perspectives. Thank you.

      • If my comments are the cause of controversy, I apologize. I was merely attempting to clarify why (from an Italian point of view) such local ordinances make sense. However, having lived in South Florida since the mid 70’s, and as a nature lover, I feel just as impassioned when tourists (yes even foreign, not just snowbirds) overlook endangered species laws or take it upon themselves to litter the beaches, etc. Civic responsibility is all encompassing anywhere we choose to travel or reside.

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