Italian city burghers ban kebab shops and fast food outletsKebabs "could impact the decorum of our city", says the mayor of Verona. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Italian city burghers ban kebab shops and fast food outlets

Andrea Vogt

A northern Italian city famed for its summer opera season, Roman amphitheatre and associations with Romeo and Juliet has decided kebab and other fast food outlets are lowering the tone.

Verona has prohibited any new restaurants offering mostly “ethnic” or deep-fried meals, in a ruling that took effect this week.

The historic centre of Verona, Italy, is dominated by a massive 16,000-seat coliseum, seen in this undated photo. Photo: AP Photo The massive amphitheatre in the historic centre of Verona, Italy. File photo: AP Photo

“There will be no more openings of establishments that sell food prepared in a way that could impact the decorum of our city,” said Flavio Tosi, the mayor, an independent who was once in the anti-immigration Northern League.

“This protects not only the historic and architectural patrimony of the city centre, but also the tradition of typical culture of the Verona territory.”

The city’s medieval lanes and 2000 years of history have earned it a place on the Unesco World Heritage List.

It is also where Shakespeare set his story of star-crossed lovers.

But in the land of creamy cheese-smothered polenta and slow-cooked duck ragu, it appears there is growing demand for Middle Eastern kebabs, Greek gyros and deep-fried takeaways.

A doner kebab shop. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphotoCivic leaders say some shops are lowering the tone of Verona. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A previous strict management plan to limit their proliferation has not been deemed sufficiently effective.

Similar so-called “Unesco laws” are under consideration in a number of the country’s tourist destinations as residents complain of neighbourhoods spoiled by takeaways and trinket shops.

Critics say some proposals effectively discriminate against a growing immigrant population, especially Italy’s 1.6 million Muslims.

In the land of creamy cheese-smothered polenta and slow-cooked duck ragu, it appears there is growing demand for Middle Eastern kebabs, Greek gyros and deep-fried takeaways.

Earlier this week, Italy’s highest court nullified a regional law in Lombardy regulating religious buildings, which made it harder to construct mosques.

The law, drawn up by the Northern League in 2015, required all places of worship to fit in with local architecture and be operated only by religions recognised by the state. With only six official mosques in the whole country, hundreds of makeshift “garage mosques” have sprung up.

City officials in nearby Venice are considering restrictions to limit mini-markets, trinket shops, money transfer points and internet call centres that are often run by immigrants.

Its mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, complained of cheap souvenirs of dubious provenance, saying: “These are things that have nothing to do with our history and frankly create discomfort.”

The Daily Telegraph, London

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