Beautiful Italy
CNN  — 

Italy might be the home of al fresco dining, but in the tourist mecca of Florence street-snacking has become such a problem that local authorities have introduced fines of up to €500 ($581) to combat it.

The city ordinance, which came into effect on September 4, bans people from pausing in the historic center to eat food on sidewalks, roadways and on the doorsteps of shops and houses.

Around 10.2 million tourists visit Florence each year, to see such world-famous attractions as Michelangelo’s “David” and the medieval Ponte Vecchio – and that number has risen by 2.4 million in just five years.

The four streets affected by the ban – Via de’ Neri, Piazzale degli Uffizi, Piazza del Grano and Via della Ninna – are among the busiest in the city and the restrictions are in place during peak eating times: noon to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Congestion and litter

Via de’ Neri is filled with food shops, including three branches of the wildly popular sandwich joint All’antico Vinaio and the much-loved ice cream store Gelateria dei Neri.

Hungry sightseers often loiter here to feast upon some of Italy’s finest carbs and dairy. This, supporters of the measure say, exacerbates congestion in an already crowded city and also adds to a litter problem.

Dario Nardella, the Mayor of Florence, says in a Facebook post announcing the move: “Sometimes we are faced with tourists who lack education towards our city […]. And that’s not good at all.”

He adds, “Tourists, if they behave like they do at home, are and will always be our welcome guests, especially if they want to enjoy our gastronomic specialties […]. Only those who love Florence deserve Florence.”

It’s not the first time Nardella has taken a hard line against street-guzzling. Last summer he ordered that the steps of the city’s churches be hosed down to deter tourists from picnicking upon them.