Sicily town banishes pushy waiters from the pavement

Sicily town banishes pushy waiters from the pavement
Tourists walk down a street in central Taormina. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP
In Italy's popular tourist resorts, it's common to see waiters standing outside restaurants, chatting to potential customers and beckoning them in.

But the mayor of Taormina, a seaside town in Sicily, has now banished waiters from the pavement in the town's historic centre.

The measure comes after a brawl between waiters at two rival restaurants in August, which saw seven people reported to police.

Footage of the incident went viral across social media, with videos showing staff exchanging punches and kicks, as tourists abandoned their meals and fled the restaurant. 

Local police at the time said the brawl was “probably linked to the desire to attract more customers” and ordered the temporary closure of the two restaurants, for ten and six days respectively.

The new regulation, passed by mayor Eligio Giardina, orders restaurant owners to “ensure that their staff in charge of welcoming guests remain within the area belonging [to the business]”.

Business owners are also required to “immediately install railings” to mark out the space they are permitted to use, leaving a space of 1.6 metres for customers to use.

Any restaurant or bar owner whose staff are caught flouting the ban face fines of between €25 and €500, and authorities may also close the eatery for up to five days.

Over summer, Taormina went into lockdown as it hosted a G7 summit, with mayor Giardina saying he had “pulled off the impossible” in putting all the necessary security measures in place. Around 7,000 members of security forces patrolled the town while the coastal promenade was declared off limits for a lack of escape routes.

The state spent over €14 million euros to repair the town's pot-holed roads and crumbling ruins, but locals complained about holiday makers being scared off by the disruption which came at the height of the summer season.

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Photo: Patrick Hertzog/AFP