Venice has banned the opening of new take-away outlets in the city for the next three years as part of an ongoing drive to reduce the impact of mass tourism.
The decision is part of a wider effort to retain the charm of the World Heritage Site, whose many church steps, historic bridges and canal banks are frequently overrun with snacking visitors.
Eating in the ancient streets and piazzas of this celebrated city also creates an abundance of litter and the associated problems of vermin and flocks of seagulls and pigeons. Similarly to some UK coastal spots, large gulls have been spotted swooping down to snatch food out of unsuspecting tourists’ hands.
The regulation was authorised by Luigi Brugnaro, the mayor of Venice, and covers the outlying islands of Murano and Burano, which are also popular with visitors.
It follows a recent controversial directive to segregate tourists and locals over the May Day weekend, which is one of the busiest times of year. Turnstiles were erected with the aim of dispersing footfall, which local protesters tore down in frustration.
“We refuse the idea of having checkpoints to get into the city. We own our city,” said protestor Marco Baravalle in a video which was later posted on social media. “It’s not the mayor who owns the city. It’s not the police or the tourists either.”
“Venice is dying,” he added. “The mayor putting in the turnstiles is demonstrating that he is giving up. He wants Venice to become a city with no inhabitants.”
Despite the city’s public information campaign #EnjoyRespectVenezia, which encourages visitors to behave “in a responsible and respectful manner” in harmony with local residents, the huge volume of tourists armed with selfie-sticks shows no sign of abating
Concerns about the impact of mass tourism on a city that hosts 60,000 visitors every day continue to grow. Paola Mar, the tourism chief of this global destination, spoke exclusivelyto The Independent last year, describing the city in summertime as being “like war”.