Venice has long been known as the sinking city, but only in modern times has it begun sinking under the weight of its tourists. Each day, the Unesco World Heritage site receives up to 60,000 visitors, resulting in a city that is increasingly becoming devoid of actual Venetians.
While Venice is not the only city grappling with the crisis of overtourism, it is taking a more punitive approach than most in dealing with visitors. Earlier this year, the city began separating tourists from locals during busy periods. And in 2017—in addition to taking steps to divert large cruise ships to a nearby industrial town—the city’s tourism board launched the #EnjoyRespectVenezia campaign to remind tourists of everything they can’t do while visiting the fine city. There are even “angels of decorum” employed each summer to ensure the rules are enforced.
This week came news that tourists may soon be banned from engaging in a fairly common activity: sitting. While sitting in and around the famed St. Mark’s Square is already banned, there is a new proposal from mayor Luigi Brugnaro to ban sitting on the ground throughout the city, with offenders facing fines between €50 and €500. The rule will be voted on in October.
If the mere act of resting one’s backside after a long day of sightseeing may be banned, it’s worth asking what else “boorish” visitors—the seemingly preferred adjective of tourism officials—are supposed to avoid. Here is a list of forbidden behaviors in Venice, as well as the fine they incur.
- Sitting is banned in the following places: “in St. Mark’s Square and in Piazzetta dei Leoncini, beneath the arcades and on the steps of the Procuratie Nuove, the Napoleonic Wing, the Sansovino Library, beneath the arcades of the Ducal Palace, in the impressive entranceway to St. Mark’s Square otherwise known as Piazzetta San Marco and its jetty.” (€200)
- You can’t idly stand around, even to consume food and drink, unless you are in a restaurant or cafe. (€200)
- You may not swim or immerse your body parts in any canal, stream, “water spot,” or in St Mark’s Basin. (€450)
- You can’t litter, although that should be obvious. (€100-200)
- You may not roam Venice’s historic streets or be in any private or public vehicle “while bare-chested or wearing swimwear.” (€200)
- You may not scatter food or food waste, even if it’s to feed pigeons. (€50-200)
- Bicycling is not allowed, “even when led by hand.” (€100)
- You may not camp, nor lie on benches. And don’t even thinking about standing anywhere in possession of camping equipment, because that is banned too. (€50)