You may not know this, but Venice has a heap of rules just for tourists. Some make sense, and others, well, not so much. In fact, you could easily break them and never realise you’ve done anything wrong. But the latest rule is definitely the craziest we’ve ever heard of: Venice is about to ban sitting down in public places. Yes, you read correctly.
Luigi Brugnaro, the mayor of Venice, has proposed to the council that what the city needs to help combat overcrowding is a fine of up to €500 for anyone who sits down in an undesignated area. While it’s yet to be confirmed whether the proposal will be approved, it’s actually quite likely that it will come into effect since sitting down is already banned at tourist hotspots like St Mark’s Square and on the steps of Rialto Bridge.
Venice is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there are many valid fears about the island sinking, so it’s no surprise that locals want to protect by becoming one of the toughest when it comes to sustainability and tourism. These rules are all part of the city’s #EnjoyRespectVenezia campaign, which aims to control over tourism and give local Venetians some space to live.
Other rules that already apply to visitors include no public picnics, no jumping into the canals (honestly, it’s so filthy that we don’t know why you’d want to), no littering (obviously), no wearing inappropriate and revealing clothing such as swimwear, no feeding pigeons and no riding bicycles anywhere in Venice. While some of the rules are possible to be broken accidentally, there are more obvious rules such as, no camping in the city, no defacing public property (including graffiti), no putting padlocks on bridges or monuments and no buying fake goods from illegal street vendors, which is a big issue in Venice.
The people responsible for policing public spaces are the ‘decorum angels’—local workers who remind tourists of the rules. As many people are visiting for the first time and the rules aren’t common knowledge, these friendly faces are always on hand to remind people in St Mark’s Square that no sitting is allowed. We’re not really sure what happens if they refuse move on, but it likely involves the police.
If you’re shocked by how strict Venice is, don’t be, it isn’t the only Italian city to put restrictions in place. In Florence, snacking on the streets can result in a €500 (it’s unclear if gelato counts), and in Sardinia, stealing sand from its beautiful beaches (yes, tourists were actually doing this!) will see you face a fine of €500 to €3,000.
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“We’re trying to keep up these rules in order to give you a better Venice. We understand that the rules might seem a little bit harsh and might make the experience less enjoyable, but we do this to preserve Venice as it always has been and to try to keep it alive as long as possible.” – Decorum Angel, Telegraph UK.
Crowding is a real problem in Venice, so it’s understandable why these restrictions are in place. The council isn’t just about regulations though, they’re trying to find positive solutions too and have built an online tool that tracks how many visitors are coming to the city every day so that people can check it, plan an alternate route and manage capacity in the charming, narrow streets.