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Staying out of trouble in Italy

17 September 2019

Phoebe Grinter

Italy’s reputation for pizza, pasta and bureaucracy is well known. What people are less aware of are the new visitor-aimed rules and regulations that they have introduced in a bid to combat over-tourism. Having just completed a year studying in Italy, I have become well acquainted with these quirky laws.

Their zero-tolerance approach means seemingly basic, everyday activities could now get you a fine of up to €500 or even a daspo (temporary ban) from a city. Respecting Italy and its citizens should be enough to keep you out of major trouble, but even the most well-intentioned tourist may slip up. So, if you are planning a trip to Italy in the near future, look out for these rules:

Venice is a popular destination with tourists from around the world. Although this is helpful to their economy, this ongoing popularity is causing issues for city officials who are striving to protect its fragile environment. The city reached breaking point in June 2019 when a cruise ship crashed into the docks of Giudecca canal, forcing the mayor of the city to plead that UNESCO add Venice to its World Heritage site blacklist to prevent further damage.

In Venice, visitors can now be penalised if they sit or lie down in front of shops, historic monuments and bridges, if they walk around shirtless or in swimming costumes, and if they bathe or swim in the canals. These new rules are an extension of the #EnjoyRespectVenezia campaign that was introduced last summer. This campaign introduced fines for visitors caught littering, having a picnic in a public space, stopping on the bridges, or riding a bike.

Drinking alcohol on the streets of Venice is forbidden between 20:00 and 08:00. Breaches of these regulations are met with fines ranging from €25 to a €500 maximum penalty.

Tourists caught buying fake brands on the beaches in Venice are liable to a €1000 fine. In hindsight, you might as well have just bought the real thing!
Be careful when purchasing tours or ‘skip-the-line’ tickets for historic monuments in any city as this could incur a fine.

You are not allowed to eat or drink at famous sites in any city and you will be moved on by a city official. However, on the streets of Florence, anyone caught eating at certain times on any of the four streets that run through the city’s historic centre could face fines of between €150 and €500. Florence lacks public benches and so visitors have little choice but to sit and eat on the kerb or in public doorways. Alongside a litter problem, it can make the already narrow streets harder to navigate.

You are not permitted to drag pushchairs or wheeled suitcases up the Spanish Steps in Rome. Police have been urging lounging tourists to move from the Spanish Steps as sitting on them is now subject to a fine of up to €400.

The millennial fascination with lovelocks will also get you into trouble. If you attach one to a public place in Venice or Rome, you will be hit with an unwanted fine.

There are lots of drinking fountains in Rome, and understandably it is forbidden to let your mouth touch the spout of the fountain. So, when in Rome, do as the Romans do and place your finger under the stream to direct an arc of water to your mouth.

The wearing of sandals or flip-flops while hiking in Cinque Terre is banned. Another footwear-related rule is the banning of noisy shoes in Capri. A couple were recently arrested for wearing noisy flip flops, so watch out.

It is forbidden to swim in the Blue Grotto on the island of Capri. They offer boat trips to the popular location but swimming in the grotto is strictly prohibited. There are no exceptions to this rule, and supermodel Heidi Klum was fined €6000 for taking a dip this summer.

The Italians are strict when it comes to their beaches. So much so that stealing sand from the beach could land you up to six years in prison.

While abroad it is essential to make sure everyone back home is suitably jealous of your hols by keeping your Insta updated. However, Milan has outlawed selfie sticks in some of its more popular tourist areas in a bid to avoid what they deem to be anti-social behaviour.

So, if you want to enjoy la dolce vita in Italy be sure to adhere to these rules.

For more useful info about Italy, be sure to check out

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1 comment
  1. Ross Geller

    A fine for drinking in the street? Lucky that doesn’t apply over here! Haha

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