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June 28, 2017

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Soggy sandwiches in Florence as city cracks down on picnics

The Italian city of Florence is planning to spray its famous church squares with water as a way of discouraging tourists from using them as picnic spots.

The steps and squares outside several churches in the city center are to be sprayed with water every day at midday, on a trial basis, to clean them and prevent tourists from using them for picnics.

In a video on his Facebook page, mayor Dario Nardella says the city has no problem with tourists briefly sitting down to rest, but the aim is to prevent people from eating and drinking in the beauty spots.

Opponents of the idea have called it a waste of water, since it will quickly evaporate anyway in the summer. Others say the Tuscan city should provide more seating options for visitors.

Nardella stressed that this was an "experiment."

Florence, a UNESCO world heritage site, is not the first Italian city to propose measures to combat mass tourism. Last year in Rome, a suggestion of protecting the Spanish Steps from picnickers with a fence unleashed a storm of indignation.

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