Rome mayor clarifies

The mayor of Rome Gianni Alemanno has moved to clarify the city's recent legislation restricting camping and consuming food and drink on Rome's streets. Describing the order as "anti-camping, not anti-panino", Alemanno said "our police will never disturb anyone with a sandwich in their hands because it doesn’t make sense.”

The mayor said the rule, which has caused much debate in Rome since it was introduced on 1 October, was aimed at combating degradation around the capital.

To illustrate his point, a false;" href="">video on Alemanno's blog shows him walking around the rubbish-strewn Spanish Steps. Among bemused onlookers, the mayor gathered abandoned items such as cans, glass bottles – even a bag of refuse – all of which he dumped (not recycled) in a bin in Piazza Trinità dei Monti.

Alemanno accused those behind recent protests over the legislation, including a sandwich-eating flash mob at the Campidoglio, of possessing a "hippy logic" that viewed the legislation as merely a way of repressing people. "If you go to Vienna, Paris, Tokyo, and try to do what unfortunately is done around the monuments of our city, the reaction of the police is very tough, much more than the fines we give."

The order – which remains in force until the end of this year and carries fines from €25 to €500 – affects areas "of particular historical, artistic, architectural and cultural heritage" within Rome's centro storico.