No more passeggiata: Florence limits evening walks in city centre ‘to stop virus spread’

In new rules aimed at preventing crowds from descending on Florence, local authorities have effectively banned visitors from walking around popular parts of the city centre on weekend evenings - unless they buy something to eat or drink.

No more passeggiata: Florence limits evening walks in city centre ‘to stop virus spread’
Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

The “anti-gathering” ordinance, in place from June 25th, means new limits on the sale and consumption of takeaway alcoholic drinks in the historic centre of Florence and a ban on parking in six areas considered at risk of attracting large crowds on weekends.

The municipality stated that the rules were put in place to prevent coronavirus infections from spreading in crowded areas.

Many Italian cities have introduced bans on drinking and even eating in the streets, among other rules intended to protect “public decorum” – often in a bid to curb the unruly behaviour of tourists.

READ ALSO: 15 strange ways to get into trouble on holiday in Italy

At first glance, the new ordinance appears to simply be an extension of previous limits on eating and drinking in certain public areas within the historic centre.

But on closer inspection, the new rules also mean that entering certain parts of the city is banned altogether on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights between 6pm and 11pm, unless you’re a local resident or a customer of bars and restaurants in the area.

The ordinance restricts access to large parts of the city, including the popular areas of Piazza Santo Spirito, Piazza Strozzi, Santa Croce, and Piazza S.S. Annunziata. 

This means that taking an evening walk, or passeggiata – an important feature of everyday life in Italy – will not be allowed unless you’re also buying food or drink in the area.

Florentine newspaper L’Arno reported that municipal police would be asking people to show receipts to prove they had been eating or drinking in the restricted areas.

The rules are backed up with potential fines of between €400 and €1,000.

Italian food and drink blog Dissappore wrote: “Bar and restaurant receipts have become the new pass needed to get around the centre.”

It added: “Do we really want eating and drinking to become the only key to accessing the cities of art, to the world, to life?”

Florence councilor Benedetta Albanese stated that the rules were put in place “for the livability of our streets and squares”.

The local rule will stay in place until the state of emergency ends in Italy.

This is currently set to be July 31st, though it is widely expected to be extended once again.

Most of the nationwide coronavirus measures have been dropped in Italy as of June 28th, as every region was declared a low-risk ‘white’ zone.

The nationwide midnight curfew, also intended to prevent gatherings, was scrapped on June 21st.

However, regional and municipal authorities are free to enforce their own rules in addition to those imposed by the national government.

Member comments

  1. How are these rules enforced? Also, how are any of the quarantine rules enforced? Do the authorities visit your flat? Do you get phoned?

    1. Hi, rules like this would would be enforced by the municipal police on the street in Florence. We don’t know how strict they’re being in this case, but Italian police generally do carry out a lot of checks (and hand out plenty of fines!)

      Quarantine rules are enforced by the regional health authorities, and yes, they can phone or visit, depending on how high risk they judge you/the country you travelled from to be. More info about that here:

      Thanks for reading,
      – Clare

    2. The Spanish steps is in Rome, they are talking about florence. Do you know if Rome is doing the same? I will be in florence and Rome next week.

  2. What if you have a hotel on one of the squares? I can understand making the Spanish Steps off limits, as much as it pains me, but this is stupid. To “stop the spread,” right, well why now when it isn’t really spreading like it has been for the last year and a half? Is this going to go away after covid?

    1. …this might be more about the football. My suspicion was that the 5 day quarantine from UK was to stop thousands of England football fans from coming to Rome yesterday

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Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”