Who hasn't taken a break from strolling through Rome to sample some of the local cuisine? The city's government would now like you to take that panini elsewhere, please.
According to an article in the New York Times, Rome's mayor was horrified when he saw so many people hanging out at the city's historic landmarks, eating bagged lunches and gelato. So he passed an ordinance banning eating and drinking anywhere in Rome with "particular historic, artistic, architectonic, and cultural value" (which is pretty much everywhere in the Eternal City). And fines can total up to $650.
It's not just tourists that are being fined, of course. Locals who want to take their lunch break on city steps are not immune. Which led to a recent protest at City Hall consisting of a flash mob eating pizza and panini.
The Times also notes that Rome isn't the only Italian city cracking down on dining al fresco. There has been an ordinance for years banning anyone from sitting and eating on the steps around Venice's St. Mark's Square. The steps at Florence's famous cathedral are also roped off to keep people from treating them like a café.
What do you think of this rule? Is this really the best way to protect landmarks?