20 JUN 2017: The mayor of Florence is justifiably concerned about tourists sitting on church steps eating their lunches. They leave behind empty containers and greasy wrappers and Mayor Dario Nardella says that is no way to treat historical Renaissance buildings. I agree with his sentiment, as much as I am amused by his solution. He has arranged for the offending tourists to be hosed down.  

The hosers (not to be confused with the flannel clad, tuque topped variety of the McKenizie brothers fame) arrive at lunchtime and use portable power washers to remove grit (and by that I mean masticating masses) from the steps of the basilicas.

Don’t let my reference to Bob and Doug McKenzie suggest that the work of the Italian hosers is anything less than dignified.

Mayor Nardello said that they could have chosen to fine tourists, but he thought that seemed so gauche, ticketing people and asking for money.

No, it was determined that sending street cleaners in orange safety vests, armed with spray guns is the way to go; a little bit more elegant.

The mayor explained, “We have nothing against tourists. We know that they are a great resource for our city, but there is a problem with respecting decorum.

“The majority of visitors are respectful and elegant. But there has been an increase among those who don’t respect our cultural heritage, who sit down on church steps, eat their food and leave rubbish strewn on them.”

Nardella has strong opinions about his city, which is being sued by McDonald’s after he denied the fast food chain from getting a license for a new restaurant. Seems he didn’t think the US burger place should be sharing space with the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral, the Giotto bell tower and the St John Baptistery.

McDonald’s has four other restaurants in town, but outside of The Cathedral Square.

The first hosing of tourists at the beginning of the month was effective, but temporary because as soon as the sun dried up the water, picnicking populaces returned.

It remains to be seen if and when a subsequent team of hosers armed with spray guns will be released. And when visitors will next be asked to “take-off eh?”




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Pam Stellini

Pam Stellini is an original. Her quirky outlook and wry humour defy categorization. Readers have compared her to Erma Bombeck and Art Buchwald with a travel spin – and we're not about to argue. 

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