Why It May Be Hard To Find Vacation Rentals At This Popular Italian City

Legislators in Florence, Italy will soon vote on whether or not to ban new Airbnbs in the centro storico, the historic city center. The bold move by Mayor Dario Nardella comes in response to a record number of tourists flocking to the area since the pandemic and pricing locals out of the rental market. If the new law is voted into effect on Wednesday, the ban could start as early as November of this year.

Currently, there are 9,600 short-term rentals in the historical district, a stone's throw from popular tourist destinations like Piazza del Duomo and Basilica of Santa Croce. Since the announcement, more than 4,000 building owners have rushed to register their dwellings, bumping the list up to 13,700 short-term rentals, reports La Repubblica, the local media. At least 75% of these rentals are located in a small slice of Florence, the 5% that makes up the historic city center and UNESCO World Heritage site, considered the birthplace of the Renaissance.

Once the ban goes into effect, no new Airbnb rentals can be registered in the historical zone. Those who've already registered their properties can continue to rent to tourists or convert their property back into a residential unit for 0% taxes for three years. It's too soon to tell yet how this housing incentive will impact travelers, but once the centro is filled to capacity, visitors can expect to look for accommodation outside of the city center.

Why Florence is cracking down

The goal of Florence's new legislation is to preserve local culture and curb city-wide rent increases. As investors attempt to meet demand in popular areas by buying buildings and converting them into Airbnbs, it prices locals out of the rental market, who are forced to move elsewhere. As a result, rent increases everywhere — and not just in Florence, either. This year, Italians have been protesting the lack of affordable housing in other tourist hotspots as well, like Milan and Rome, reports Reuters. In response to soaring rent prices, Lisbon, Paris, and Barcelona have floated similar Airbnb policies.

Italy is not the only country to try and manage the woes of overtourism, and it won't be the last. While changing policies will impact your vacations in the future, there is a silver lining. Not only will it be cheaper to find accommodation outside of the city center, but you'll have the opportunity to explore less-trafficked neighborhoods and see how Florentines really live. You might fancy the botanical gardens of the San Marco neighborhood, for example. Or perhaps the trending shops and restaurants of the Santo Spirito area. It's all about perspective. Consider new legislation as an opportunity to get outside of your comfort zone and explore underrated destinations. When it comes to Tuscany, any option is a good one.