Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Eating a Gelato at the Memorial? It Could Cost You

Posted by Caitlin Endyke

Planning an Italian vacation anytime soon? If you’re headed to the nation’s capitol and planning to take in the sights, make sure not to take any snacks with you.

Rome has recently passed a municipal ordinance that bans people from eating on or near areas of historic or artistic value.  So, if you’re headed to the Trevi Fountain and stop for some gelato at one of the many shops that outline the piazza, you could be fined up to $650 for consuming your treat too close to the storied landmark. 

City officials said the ban was intended to preserve monuments’ “proper decorum” and protect Rome’s most prized landmarks from food spills, litter, and tourists camped out for their mid-day meal.  Their reasoning stems both from an effort to maintain the beauty of these ancient structures but also to preserve everyone’s enjoyment of these destinations.  As Rome's head of tourism noted, "You wouldn’t eat a pizza and drop tomato sauce all over the steps of the White House in Washington.” And, I guess, the last thing you’d want in the middle of your token photograph of the Spanish Steps is a group of tourists munching on paninis (or the wrappers they might have left behind). 

But this story made me think about how quite a few major cities across the world are instituting rules and regulations for their public spaces (New York’s passage of a smoking ban for all public parks in 2011 comes immediately to mind), and what that means from a Commons perspective.  If a ban like the one in Rome or New York truly does serve to protect the space and ensure that most people get more enjoyment out of their experiences there, does that make up for the fact that governments are slowly but surely increasing the limits upon what we can do in those areas and how we can enjoy them?  I’m honestly not entirely sure what my conclusion is on the matter.  For example, I often take my lunch in a park close to my office, and I enjoy the fact that the park is required to remain smoke-free.  But I bet a smoker who finds the smell of my lunch upsetting feels the opposite way.  So what’s the verdict? And who gets to make the decision? If you've got an opinion on the matter feel free to leave it in the comments below!

1 comment:

Ken Goldstein said...

To your last example, the smoker may not like the smell of your lunch, but I know of no sandwich that's been shown to cause cancer from second-hand exposure.

But, to the Italian example, it will be interesting to see if they enforce this with equal vigor when locals bring their snacks, or if the main purpose here is really just to collect an extra $650 from each American tourist.