The small town of Lucca, in Tuscany not all that far from Florence, has one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful piazzas in Italy, and a preserved medieval center that some stands apart in a country with no shortage of preserved medieval centers.
There are a smattering of ethnic eateries tucked down some narrow streets behind the square, but not many. And don’t look for any new ones to sprout up.
Lucca last week passed a law banning new ethnic restaurants from opening up in its Old Town. No more kebab stands or Indian curries or Chinese fast food.
“By ethnic cuisine we mean a different cuisine,” city spokesman Massimo Di Grazia said Thursday, according to the Associated Press. “That means no new kebabs, Thai or Lebanese restaurants.”
Is this gastronomic discrimination? Some local officials and restaurant owners think so. They say it’s indicative of a wider trend in Italy that portends a gradual closing off of the country to outside cultures.
But those behind the ban say its purpose it to protect local products, food and cuisine.
A number of other nearby Tuscan towns have passed similar ordinances.
Ethnic restaurants that opened before the ban are allowed to stay in business.