Lucca says stop to ethnic food?

Today I read on il Corriere della Sera (see the article in Italian) that Lucca‘s center-right city government has passed a local law that will not allow the opening of new restaurants preparing dishes “of a different ethnic origin”. So no more Kebab or Couscous shops at least within the old city walls, the most beautiful, historical part of Lucca. The existing restaurants are “encouraged” to add to their menu a few typical dishes from Lucca, like minestra di farro or castagnaccio.

The first impression I got was that there’s something very wrong with this law, that it somehow seems to be inspired by some sort of gastronomic racism! Then, reading more about it (like here) it turns out that the law also regards other fast food type of places, such as pizza shops that sell pizza by the slice. It seems, however, that the kebab points are particularly under fire because it was said that “there are too many, they are ugly and smell”.

A representative of the city government explains that inside the walls, in 4 square kilometers, there are already 5 kebab places and several other fast food establishments. These places are often really small with no place to sit down and eat. In their opinion, they constrain people to eat in the piazzas sitting under the city’s main monuments, often leaving the remains of their meals on the streets. The new law is intended to maintain the city’s decorum by limiting the growth of these type of food shops, while at the same time promoting traditional restaurants that prepare typical dishes of both Lucca and Tuscany.

Explained in this manner, the law does not seem that bad. There are already similar laws in other cities. For example, on the boardwalk in Viareggio only certain types of shops, those that “increase the touristic value of the city”, are allowed. Still I believe they could have been more diplomatic and not refer to food of a “different ethnicity” in describing the fast food places that will no longer be allowed to open within the historic walls.

It would be interesting to hear the opinion of someone living in Lucca.

About Stefano Romeo

Stefano is a native from Florence but with a quarter of Sienese blood in his DNA and many years living in Pisa is a true Tuscan. He is still learning that his homeland has many corners and hidden gems he has to discover, ones he particularly enjoys seeing from the saddle of his bike.