[Photo credit: Comune Venezia.]
Police in Venice have fined two German tourists a total of €950 for making coffee on the steps of the Rialto bridge, Venice’s oldest and most famous bridge, located on the Grand Canal.
A passer-by saw the backpackers, aged 32 and 35, prepare coffee on a travel stove at the foot of the Rialto Bridge, a violation of rules about public order in effect since May, and alerted the authorities. The tourists were also asked to leave the city.
"Venice must be respected and those impolite people who come here and do what they want must understand that,” Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro said. “Thanks to the local police, they will be sanctioned and removed."
"Our city will always be open and welcoming to all those who want to come and visit it," Brugnaro continued. "At the same time, we will be intransigent with those who think they will come and do what they want."
People in Venice are banned from sitting in the most touristy areas, such as St. Mark's Square, the steps of the Rialto Bridge, and under the arcades of the Ducal Palace.
Rules trying to contain inconsiderate behavior and the effects of mass tourism (Venice is visited by approximately 60,000 people every day) were introduced in 2017 by the city council via the #EnjoyRespectVenezia campaign. They prohibit public picnics, jumping into the canals, dropping litter, wearing inappropriate clothing such as swimwear or not wearing a shirt in public spaces, feeding pigeons, placing padlocks on bridges or monuments, buying fake goods from illegal street vendors.
The set of rules approved in May by the city council confirm the above prohibitions, in a section labeled ‘Acts that go against decorum’ (Atti contrari al decoro). They also prohibit people from eating and drinking while sitting on the ground; in addition, people are prohibited from “sitting or lying on the ground on the steps of bridges and monumental arcades, in front of shop windows, and on high-water walkways.”
Venice was recently in the news when a giant cruise ship lost control as it was navigating along the Giudecca canal in Venice, and crashed into a river boat injuring five people.