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Italy at war with overtourism: Milan bans the sale of ice cream and pizza after midnight

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After Venice introduced a visitation fee and the Cinque Terre made the area’s tourist routes one-way, now another Italian city is entering the battle against overtourism. Finding the best ice cream while walking through the small streets of Milan is part of the experience not only for tourists but also for the residents of Italy’s fashion capital. But soon that will change.

However, a new law could put an end to this long-standing tradition. Marco Granelli, the city’s deputy mayor for security, recently announced plans to ban the sale of takeaway food and drink after midnight to preserve “peace” in 12 of the city’s busiest neighborhoods, CNN reported.

“Our goal is to seek a balance between sociability and entertainment and the peace and health of residents,” Grenelli wrote on social media. He added: “We believe in the living city, where both young and old have spaces they can share together.”

The ban, which the city says is necessary to deal with excessive noise in residential areas, will also prevent establishments from serving food and drink outside between 12:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. on weekdays and between 1:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. on weekends.

Critics say the ban goes against Italian culture and are calling for the law to be changed. If approved, the ban would go into effect as early as next month and last until November, after the busy tourist season ends.

Milan’s gelaterias are known as some of the best in the world. According to Luca Finardi, general manager of the city’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Italians passionately debate which gelateria is the best in town.

“We all have at least one we prefer,” he says. Brera, the city’s arts district, and Garibaldi, known for its high-end shopping, are among the 12 areas in the city expected to be controlled by the new rules.

The other districts are: Nolo, Lazzareto, Melzo, Isola, Sarpi, Cesariano, Arco della Pace, Corso Como-Gae Aulenti, Tichinese and Darsena-Navigli.

Fine for buying pizza

For some, sanctions are too radical a step. Marco Barbieri, secretary general of the Milan branch of the Italian retail association Confcommercio, told CNN that the ban goes against “common sense”.

“If an Italian family goes out for pizza and then wants to go for a walk and eat ice cream, they will be fined under this ordinance,” he says. He accepts that some residents are disturbed by the noise, but adds that there is room for compromise, such as keeping parks and other spaces open for longer.

“In Milan, there are many areas that are perfect for ‘movida’ (parties) that will not disturb the residents, they should be open later, not close earlier,” he says.

Barbieri also thinks midnight is too early to stop sales. He says most young people in Milan don’t even think about going out for dinner before 10pm, especially on summer evenings.

The expert is adamant that the new proposal will be accepted, but he hopes it will be in a modified form. “We’re hoping they’ll take ice cream, water and pizza off the list. Leave the late-night alcohol ban,” he says.

However, a change in the law is not guaranteed. Similar plans to tighten the ban were proposed by local authorities back in 2013, but had to be abandoned after a significant public backlash and the formation of a protest movement called “Occupy Gelato”.

It is unclear whether there will be the same level of resistance this time around. Town residents have until next week to have their say on the new proposal before the fate of the late-night ice cream walk is finally decided.

Illustrative Photo by Muffin Creatives: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-photo-of-person-holding-pizza-1653877/

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