Living inside the bubble of my regular life in Phoenix I’m really not so aware of how horrific the impact of single use plastics is on our planet.
When I am out traveling around the world I find it staggering. As such I do my best to minimize and eventually eliminate my personal use of single use plastics.
in Los Angeles I applaud the way they charge for plastic shopping bags at the
supermarket, and how the population has adjusted to bringing their own shopping
bags or using paper bags. I wish we had that here in Phoenix too.
One way I try to minimize my own negative impact on the planet is by using re-useable drinking bottles. I take them with me when I travel, and for the most part have done pretty well with it, although I cringe if I see a photo of myself walking through Rome with a plastic water bottle instead of a re-useable one.
Francisco International Airport (SFO) is doing something about plastic waste
and I am thrilled about it!
August 20 2019 SFO will no longer be selling water in plastic bottles or
plastic lined containers. Instead, if you want to buy water you will have to
purchase it in recyclable glass or aluminum bottles.
airport has a Zero Waste SFO
Program through which no restaurant, shop or vending machine will be
able to sell water in plastic bottles. Unfortunately this doesn’t yet extend to
soda, but at least it is a good step forward.
SFO Cutting Edge Initiatives
the first airport to take such progressive measures, but hopefully others will
already has other plastics initiatives in place. Earlier this year all the
restaurants and café’s at the airport were required to change over to
compostable or natural utensils made from paper, bamboo or wood if they were to
be single serve items instead of re-useable ones. The airport also requires
that single use plastic straws are only available on request.
As extreme as these measures may seem at the outset, they become habit and before long you no longer think about them.
been selling 4 million plastic water bottles per year, a number I find
surprisingly small. I can’t imagine how many a busy airport such as my own
Phoenix Sky Harbor or Los Angeles LAX, Chicago O’Hare or Atlanta Hartsfield –
Jackson must go through per year!
Francisco already has plastic reduction laws and a 2014 ordinance banning the
sale of plastic water bottles on any city owned property.
You Can be The Difference
Most airports now have filling stations at or nearby all drinking fountains, so for the last few years I have been bringing a re-useable bottle and just filling it once I have passed through TSA security check. I cannot board a flight without a full bottle of water. It is something I have always done, and although probably more of a security blanket than anything else, I have to have water with me when I fly.
understanding just how devastating the impact of plastic bottles is on the
planet I was using refillable bottles just because bottled water in airports is
so ridiculously expensive. But now I have a double purpose.
Rome has had
enough of bad tourist behavior and is cracking down with a profusion of new
rules as well as the resurrection and enforcement of old ones. In the well
policed city center, which is a UNESCO Heritage Site, you can expect a hefty
fine if caught violating any of the new rules. And being that the police are
everywhere and that tourists tend to hang out in the main tourist areas, the
chances of you getting caught are huge.
Most of these new rules really are just a matter of being respectful and behaving with a sense of decency. Some of them are really annoying, because tourists behaving badly or disrespectfully have ruined things that had been hugely pleasurable for the rest of us for years.
Keep Your Shirt On
Men will be stopped and fined for walking around shirtless. Most tourists at least keep their tops on but you do on occasion see men walking around with their shirt off. Not any more! The average fine starts at 250 euro per violation.
In Venice they don’t allow women to walk around in swimwear, so shorts and a bikini top are a no-no. I’m not sure if Rome has this in place now too, if not it won’t be far behind.
Stay Out Of The Fountains In Rome
This summer the city has (finally) cracked down on tourists getting into the city’s many fountains.
Yes, we get it, you’re hot. So is everyone else. The fountains of Rome are not your personal swimming pool, so don’t climb in. Not only will you be hauled out soaking wet in front of everyone you will also be fined up to 450 euros
drinking and climbing on monuments is now banned. Tourists eating sloppy food
and dropping it all over the city monuments as well as leaving their food
scraps and trash now means the rest of us can no longer sit on monument steps
with a gelato, or with a drink in hand while taking in the view or watching
I am in 100%
support of banning the badly behaved tourists, and I don’t want to have to
clear up someone’s food detritus so that I can sit down, but I am also somewhat
saddened by this rule.
been many nights sitting on the steps in Piazza Santa Maria Trastevere watching
street performers, and just as many evenings sitting on the steps with the
locals in Piazza Trilussa watching the musicians with a backdrop of the Sisto
Bridge and the river, with a drink or a snack in hand. It has been part of life
in Rome which for now anyway, is over.
One of the
experiences I have loved in Piazza Trilussa over the past decade has been sitting
on the stairs with local college kids and letting them practice their English
on me while some dude with a guitar, a mic and an amp sings Pink Floyd songs.
This is where I learned about Roman street foods such as suppli’ and
tripizzini, staples for Roman college students, while they educated me on
everything from local politics to current philosophy.
This is part of my aversion to American fast food chains even being in Rome let alone in the big tourist areas. McDonalds wrappers and food scraps do not belong anywhere near any monuments (or anywhere else in Rome!)
As far as I’m concerned anyone climbing on or defacing the city’s monuments should be strung up and flogged.
No More Sitting On The Spanish Steps
One of the
rules that will be hard to get used to is no longer being allowed to sit on the
Spanish Steps. I have to preface this by saying that as a rule I avoid the area
like the plague, only venturing in to go to the Nespresso store so the snooty
sales assistants can be suitably rude while I stock up on coffee to bring home.
(Why is it that Nespresso workers everywhere from Los Angeles to Barcelona to
Rome are so rude??)
There was something so iconic about sitting on the steps looking out over Rome, and many of my Glam Italia Tour travelers have really enjoyed that little photo op. But over the past few years it has become really overcrowded, full of vendors trying to sell you bottled water and selfie sticks, and has been pickpocket heaven, so has lost some of the magic.
If you are caught sitting on the steps the fine starts at 250 euros and goes up to 450 euros if you have dirtied or damaged them. Neon vested police officers now crisscross the steps all day and will be blowing whistles at you before your bum hits the deck.
No More Dragging Luggage Down Steps
This rule is
long overdue. If you get caught bouncing your luggage, especially wheeled
luggage, down any of the monument steps (most famously the Spanish Steps) in
Rome you can expect a heavy fine.
I have always been stunned at how people can think it is ok to drag their over-packed suitcases down ancient stairs, be it inside an apartment building, a villa or public walkways. The lack of concern for potential damage they are causing is deplorable.
Buses and Public Transport Fines
before jumping on to a bus, tram or metro in Rome without a ticket. In July of
this year the ATAC, Rome’s public transport company issued more than 17,000
tickets to fare dodgers.
Where formerly you didn’t really see too much of a presence, this year ticket inspectors are checking an average of 9,000 people per day. From January to July of this year (2019) they have checked more than 2 million passengers, resulting in more than 134,000 fines being issued.
If you are
thinking about attaching a “love padlock” to any bridge or monument, anywhere
in the world, for God’s sake just stop!
It is now
outlawed in Rome, hopefully Paris will follow suit.
Here’s the deal: these centuries’ old bridges and iron grates were not built to withstand the weight of all these padlocks. Your one padlock may not seem like a big deal, but multiply it by hundreds and the equation changes. City workers have to cut the padlocks off (so it’s a waste of time anyway) but still the weight and the constant use of bolt cutters and steel cutters is damaging to something that will definitely outlast your love for Roger.
On top of
that, would be romantics after attaching their padlock then toss the key over
the bridge into the river below. Cities have to dredge the river beds to
collect these stupid keys. The whole thing is ludicrous and incredibly
damaging, and when you think about it is no less offensive and defacing than if
you spray painted “I love Roger” on the wall. If you love him so much, padlock
something at your own house.
Expect to get caught and expect a big fine.
No Lips On Water Fountains
you go in Rome you will see Nasoni, the ever running water fountains that keep
Romans and tourists hydrated. Fill your water bottle or cover the opening and
drink the water that spouts out, but whatever you do don’t put your mouth on
Firstly, come on – that’s gross. We all want to use the fountains and none of us want your mouth cooties. More than just being yucky behavior, it can be expensive too. New laws have made it illegal to put your mouth on the water fountain. Expect to get caught and expect to pay a fine of hundreds of euros.
Are you on the Private Members Newsletter list? This newsletter comes out twice a month and is full of great information for anyone planning a trip to Italy. Join the newsletter HERE
Junk food giant McDonalds is trying (re)open a temple to
processed meat at the place built 2000 years ago to be a temple to all Gods,
and I for one am not happy about it.
Italy pioneered the slow food movement, a movement that is about
real food, in season, not processed, as close to farm to table as possible, eaten
at a table with friends and family. Basically the complete antithesis to the
garbage that is McDonalds.
So the American junk franchise aggressively trying to push its way into the sites of ancient ruins is even more offensive than otherwise.
Although there’s a McDonalds on every street corner in America
they are few and far between in Italy. The Fast food culture hasn’t really
taken off in Italy, a country where meals are consumed sitting at a table be it
at home or in a restaurant.
But McDonalds isn’t targeting Italians. Italy is one of the
most touristed countries in the world, and McDonalds wants those tourists, so
it is trying to worm its way into the big tourist sites. Just last week they
got turned away from the Baths of Caracalla, this week they are trying to
pollute the Pantheon.
The Piazza della Rotonda, home of the Pantheon has a variety of eating options, from artiginal gelato, to the most famous coffee shop in the world (Tazza d’Oro) to a variety of trattoria and restaurants. You can sit outside at a table with a view of the Pantheon and enjoy Italian food and culture. McDonalds wants to violate that, siphoning off Americans and Chinese and plowing their tourist dollars into junk-o-rama at the expense of the local businesses.
There are multiple ways the city loses when McDonalds comes to town, but lets look at three of them:
* Local Business Suffers
Italians don’t really benefit too much from all these tourists. Beautiful, historical piazzas such as Piazza della Rotonda don’t charge an entry fee, you just walk in. The only way the city and the people make money is by tourists spending money in stores and at food establishments. Local business benefit from the influx of tourists sitting at their tables, eating their food.
If a percentage of those tourists are now getting Big Macs instead, those local businesses get hurt.
* The Trash!
American fast food chains generate an extraordinary amount of
trash. Here in the states people walk around eating fast food and then
(hopefully) dump the refuse into trash cans. Look around any American city and
see how much fast food rubbish is littered around the streets. A McDonalds by
the Pantheon is going to create trash around the Pantheon.
It should also be noted that Rome already has a problem with trash collection and disposal. The city doesn’t need American food franchises adding to the volume and making it worse.
* The Extra Crowds
A McDonalds at the Pantheon will draw even more people into the area as tourists follow the signs to the golden arches. As tricky as it can be to take a photo of the Pantheon without tourists getting in the way, a McDonalds will make it worse.
Bringing American tourists to a McDonalds at the Pantheon also brings more problems, for everyone – you and me included.
Whether they are right or wrong, pick pockets think American
tourists have the best and easiest stuff to steal. The average American tourist
is likely to have more cash on them than the average European or Eastern
European. The flash more jewelry, more overall bling, and as a result are
If you were a pickpocket and didn’t want to hang out at the
Trevi Fountain, a big American fast food chain would be the next best thing.
Easy pickings from distracted tourists busy supersizing their orders and
plowing through fries. I wouldn’t care about that – serves you right for eating
there, but now you have drawn more pickpocketing to the area, and that impacts
all of us.
* TERROR TARGETS
If you belong to some deranged sect and want to inflict harm on
a large group and get your cause some internationally televised fame and
attention, what better place to do it than one where Americans hang out? McDonalds,
Starbucks, Subway – none of them should be in Italy, period. I tell all of my
Glam Italia Tour travelers to stay the heck away from them and with the
exception of two travelers, over the years have been successful.
Although I travel the world without fear of terror attacks, I
do consciously avoid the areas around McDonalds and Co. While writing this I
did a quick google search on terror attacks and McDonalds. It looks like over
the years there have been plenty.
McDonalds had a junk food palace in the Piazza della Rotonda
in the past but was run out of town back in 2011. Hopefully the powers that be
will turn their backs on any kickbacks paying the chain’s way into the piazza.
The reversal on permitting the proposed Baths of Caracalla McDonalds at least
gives me some hope.
If you feel you need McDonalds to be part of your travel experience, maybe just stay home?