Write the Mayor

Matteo Renzi
February 16, 2012

Those interested in writing the mayor can send messages and comments via email to redazione@theflorentine.net, stating 'Write the Mayor' in the subject line of the email. Emails must clearly state the author's first name, surname, city and country of birth, and the city and country of residence.

 

 

Dear Mayor Renzi,

I am a London native and have lived in Florence for the past few months. Florence is one of those cities where you just have to stop, look up, look around and admire. And most visitors want to do just that. However, it's extremely hard to find somewhere to sit down for free, to rest, to eat a quick sandwich or to simply enjoy the beautiful city around you. I know it's easy to say, having lived in London, where there are green parks with cafés and public seating aplenty, but may I ask where are all the public benches in Florence? I live round the corner from piazza d'Azeglio, and I can't bear seeing everyone sit on the ground in the summer. It's such a great space and so many people like to spend time there! What are your plans in this regard?

 

Yours truly,

Hilary Colam

London, UK

 

 

Dear Hilary,

Thank you for writing and many thanks for the love you are showing for Florence. I have to admit I cannot agree with your observation regarding too few benches. Our main squares now boast a good number of them, possibly with the exception of piazza Duomo, where we are waiting for a group of architects tasked with the job to re-design the square. As for piazza d'Azeglio, there are many benches in the park; you can find some nice ones under the trees. Maybe you looked in the wrong spot? I wish you many happy hours spent in reflection on the beauty of our shared city.

 

Best,

Matteo Renzi

 

 

Dear Mayor Renzi,

Firstly, I wanted to echo previous writers in their support for all that you are doing for Florence. It's so refreshing to feel an injection of enthusiasm and a positive sense of change in a city that has so much potential. Not an easy task, but I see your courage and conviction transmitted to the residents of Florence, which is a major achievement.

 

My question is about the tourist or hotel tax that was put into effect last year. I deal with incoming tourists for work, and as a result, with many Florence hotels. Recently, I am often asked to explain to my clients the extra hotel and B&B city tax, which seems like a rather strange charge for tourists. Interestingly, in some cases, the hotels also seem to have difficulty explaining exactly where these fiscal contributions are directed.

 

Given that the charge ranges from 1 to 5 euro per person per night (depending on the star rating of the hotel property) and Florence sold 12 million hotel rooms in 2011, the fund created by the tax is considerable. What percentage of the funds (if not 100 percent) generated by the tourist tax is reinvested in tourism and where is it directed? For example, does the revenue support information offices, water fountains, more accessible green areas with benches, waste disposal, more illumination at night and so forth? What are the priority projects for the coming year?

 

Sincerely,

Joëlle Edwards, UK

Studentsville.it, Florence

 

 

Dear Joelle,

Thank you for your words of support for all the work we are doing! As for your question: I can understand that it is not easy to accept a charge for tourists. However, and as you properly write, Florence welcomes more than 10 million visitors every year, which means huge sums must be allocated for managing and maintenance in our City.

 

The most-visited museums in Florence are owned and managed by the central government of Italy, which collects the money generated from ticket sales. The city government, on the other hand, does not have a comparable income to invest in the services required by so many visitors.

 

Besides being very expensive, it is also not fair that Florentines should have to cover for all these additional costs. This is why we now ask tourists to contribute a token amount tied to the quality of hotel they have selected; in this way, we aim to be sensitive to their spending capacities. The money the City collects will help to improve many ordinary services by paying for underground garbage bins and additional streetlamps.

 

Regarding your other questions, I can tell you that we have installed almost 15 drinking fountains with mineral and sparkling water in key places around the city; we have opened a new tourist information point in the gorgeous space of Bigallo in piazza Duomo; we have introduced the Firenze Card, with 50 museums participating and free transportation; and more is in the works! 

 

Best,

Matteo Renzi

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