Venice bans kebab shops to ‘preserve decorum and traditions’ of city

Authorities say new measures will stop proliferation of fast-food restaurants that are ‘not compatible’ with city’s heritage

 St Mark’s Square, Venice.
Laws are already in place that prohibit the consumption of takeaway food in St Mark’s Square, Venice. Photograph: Danny Lehman/Getty Images

In an effort to “preserve decorum and traditions” in the romantic canal city of Venice, local authorities have banned new kebab shops and other fast-food outlets from opening.

A law passed on Thursday will also limit shops selling pizza by the slice. Only shops selling artisanal ice cream will be spared from the measure, long championed by the mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro.

Paola Mar, the city’s tourism chief, said: “We want to put the brakes on types of activities which are not compatible with the preservation and development of Venice’s cultural heritage.”

Mar said the city was not opposed to kebabs or other types of fast food, and stressed she did not have a problem with people eating outside, although the consumption of takeaway food in St Mark’s Square is prohibited.

“The problem is that with a tourist city like ours, there is a risk of it losing its identity. There are local products that we must try to promote, this would be better for the spirit of the city and, at an environmental level, would be more sustainable.”

Mar said there were plans to develop picnic areas to deter visitors from eating takeaway food in tourist hotspots.

Venice is the latest Italian city to limit the sale of fast food in a country that prides itself on its national cuisine. Last year Verona stopped the opening of new kebab shops, while Florence has attempted to clamp down on “foreign food” by ruling that all new restaurants and food shops in the city’s historic centre must ensure at least 70% of their produce is local.

In Venice, which receives millions of visitors each year, the authorities have long grappled with how to protect the city and its environment.

The tourist influx has angered local residents, with several posters appearing across the city last summer with the message: “Tourists go away!!! You are destroying this area!”

Local authorities have experimented with various measures to manage the number of tourists and make the city more “liveable”, including making tourists wait longer at popular vaporetto [water taxi] stops, on top of paying €6 more than locals for a ride.

Recent reports also suggested Venice was mulling charging visitors a fee to enter St Mark’s Square. Mar said this might be something the city adopts on a trial basis, but no firm plan has been drawn up.

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