The Strange Reason It's Now Illegal To Picnic In Parts Of Rome

Trip Advisor recently named Rome the top city in the world to visit for food lovers. If you happen to visit, just make sure you aren't planning a picnic. A basket packed with some meat, cheese, bread, and the makings of a classic Italian cocktail is a great way to enjoy Rome's many parks — parks like the Villa Doria Pamphili or Villa Borghese. But doing so may now land you in hot water in some parts of the city thanks to a ban on picnics.

According to The Guardian, picnics are now illegal in several "red zones" in the northern and northwestern parts of the city as the government tries to contain the population and an outbreak of African swine flu. Rome's boar population has been encroaching into the city's more heavily populated areas in recent years, making sightings a regular occurrence. While African swine flu is harmless to humans, the animals themselves have been known to attack, and their presence has caused curfews in some neighborhoods.

These wild boar are native to the Italian peninsula and are frequently enjoyed with pasta in regions like Tuscany (via Devour Tours). Practices to deter the boars away from the city are ramping up after African swine fever, which is fatal to pigs and wild boar, was detected in the body of a dead boar in the Insugherata nature reserve. In addition to banning picnics, garbage dumpsters have also been fenced off by city authorities, according to The Guardian.

Why are wild boar such a problem in Rome?

The New York Times reports that while Rome is known for its many historic and architectural beauties, it has also become plagued by trash and poor sanitary conditions. According to the publication, politicians often point to severe absenteeism, nepotism, and oversized workforces in the sanitation and transportation agencies as the cause of many of these problems. Reuters explains that the city has also failed to adapt to the closure of the Malagrotta landfill in 2013, which was closed by European Union authorities due to its inability to successfully handle waste.

The overwhelming amounts of trash are now attracting more wild animals to populated areas, according to the New York Times. Seagulls have been the most common sighting of dumpster diving in the area but were mostly harmless. The wild boars are now moving in on their territory as well. One Instagram commenter notes that "the wild boars are the new seagulls of Rome."