Buon Appetito, but Not Next to the Monuments

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Dapper as always in their bleached white shirts and matching caps, members of Rome’s municipal police force were out on the Spanish Steps one warm autumn day, trolling for offenders.

“Stefano, look! There’s another eater,” one officer said to another before sauntering over to a baffled couple who had begun munching on an inoffensive-looking meal while sitting on the steps. The culprits, a couple of foreign tourists, had settled down on the landmark, one of Rome’s most famous. In their hands were the offending items: sandwiches.

The officers pounced, and after much waving of hands, the couple wrapped up the sandwiches and slouched away, looking sheepish.

They were in violation — unwittingly, in all probability — of a municipal ordinance that went into force this month. The measure outlaws eating and drinking in areas of “particular historic, artistic, architectonic and cultural value” in Rome’s center, to better protect the city’s monuments, which include landmarks like the Colosseum, the Pantheon and the Spanish Steps. Fines range all the way up to $650 for culinary recidivists....

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