All forms of street trading are to be banned in areas of archaeological and historic importance in Rome's city centre, according to new regulations approved by Italy's culture minister Lorenzo Ornaghi.
The ban includes mobile sandwich bars, souvenir stalls, the already illegal "suk" hawkers and “centurions” and – most controversially – tables outside bars and restaurants that "impede" the view of the city's monuments. The directive prohibits all commercial activities incompatible with the preservation of the heritage in the historic centre, and strengthens existing legislation and the right of authorities to monitor and enforce the new rules.
Under banners that read “Chiuso oggi per non chiudere domani per sempre” a protest on 5 November saw 45 businesses in the historic centre close their doors while members of the catering industry including some 800 employees protested against the city's new policy in Piazza Navona.
However not everyone is against the ban. Paolo Gelsomini, a spokesman for an association representing residents of the historic centre, said "We are not against [the traders], but they must respect the aesthetics of the city, we are presenting tourists with a very bad image."
It is expected that the districts to be affected include Piazza del Popolo, Via del Corso, the "Tridente" area, Piazza Venezia, Piazza della Rotonda at the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and the area around the Roman Forum and Colosseum.