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No more paninis on the piazza? Rome bars tourists from eating at historical sites

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Max Rossi/REUTERS/File

(Read caption) A file photo shows car traffic speeding past Rome's world famous Colosseum.

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It is one of the simplest, most affordable pleasures of any visit to Rome: tucking into a piece of pizza, or a panino stuffed with prosciutto and mozzarella, while marveling at the city’s ancient monuments. But not anymore.

As of this week, anyone caught snacking around the Eternal City’s centuries-old monuments and archeological sites could find themselves landed with a fine of up to 500 euros ($650).

In an attempt to bring a greater level of decorum to a city not known for order, Rome city council has passed a decree banning tourists from snacking in the historic center, which recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.

That includes Piazza Navona, with its exquisite marble fountains, and the Pantheon, a vast Roman temple converted into a church. Other areas subject to the crackdown include Via dei Fori Imperiali, the broad avenue which links Piazza Venezia, Rome’s main square, with the Colosseum, the ancient arena where gladiators and slaves once fought.

Thinking of emulating Audrey Hepburn in the 1953 romantic comedy Roman Holiday by eating a gelato on the Spanish Steps? Think again. It could prove to be a very expensive ice cream.

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