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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Why Friday the 13th isn’t an unlucky date in Italy

Unlucky for some, but not for Italians. Here's why today's date isn't a cause for concern in Italy - but Friday the 17th is.

Why Friday the 13th isn't an unlucky date in Italy

When Friday the 13th rolls around, many of us from English-speaking countries might reconsider any risky plans. And it’s not exactly a popular date for weddings in much of the western world.

But if you’re in Italy, you don’t need to worry about it.

There’s no shortage of strongly-held superstitions in Italian culture, particularly in the south. But the idea of Friday the 13th being an inauspicious date is not among them.

Though the ‘unlucky 13’ concept is not unknown in Italy – likely thanks to the influence of American film and TV – here the number is in fact usually seen as good luck, if anything.

The number 17, however, is viewed with suspicion and Friday the 17th instead is seen as the unlucky date to beware of.

Just as some Western airlines avoid including the 13th row on planes, you might find number 17 omitted on Italian planes, street numbering, hotel floors, and so on – so even if you’re not the superstitious type, it’s handy to be aware of.

The reason for this is thought to be because in Roman numerals the number 17 (XVII) is an anagram of the Latin word VIXI, meaning ‘I have lived’: the use of the past tense apparently suggests death, and therefore bad luck. It’s less clear what’s so inauspicious about Friday.

So don’t be surprised if, next time Friday 17th rolls around, you notice some Italian shops and offices closed per scaramanzia’.

But why then does 13 often have a positive connotation in Italy instead?

You may not be too surprised to learn that it’s because of football.

Ever heard of Totocalcio? It’s a football pools betting system in which players long tried to predict the results of 13 different matches.

There were triumphant calls of ho fatto tredici! – ‘I’ve done thirteen’ – among those who got them all right. The popular expression soon became used in other contexts to mean ‘I hit the jackpot’ or ‘that was a stroke of luck!’

From 2004, the number of games included in Totocalcio rose to 14, but you may still hear winners shout ‘ho fatto tredici’ regardless.

Other common Italian superstitions include touching iron (not wood) for good luck, not toasting with water, and never pouring wine with your left hand.