Unusual Italian Laws

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 05:40

Every country has old and unusual laws that have never been repealed or just seem plain crazy. For example, in the United Kingdom, excluding Sundays, it is still legal to shoot a Scotsman with a bow and arrow; in Alaska, it is against the law to look at a moose through an aeroplane window, and, oddly enough, in China, drivers who stop at pedestrian crossings can be fined.

So it is expected that Italy has a handful of odd laws too. Some of them are national laws, while others are limited to certain towns and cities; for example, in the village where I live, you can be fined by the council if you paint your house blue.

So here’s a handful of oddities from the Italian legal statute.

- In Italy it has been a long held belief that men can ward off evil just by grabbing their crotch, however the Italian courts recently declared that men are not allowed to touch their own genitals in public.

- A man can be arrested in Italy for wearing a skirt in public, something that a traditional Scotsman must take into consideration if planning a trip.

- Despite the abundance of nearby sand, it is illegal to build sandcastles and sand structures on the beaches at Eraclea on the Venetian Lido.

- In Lucca and Florence, a new law has been passed forbidding the opening of fast food kebab shops in the historic centre.

- Although it’s not technically illegal to swim in public fountains, the act of doing so carries a substantial fine.

- In Turin, dog owners must walk their pets at least three times a day or risk being fined.

- Staying with pets, in 2005 in Rome, goldfish bowls were banned after the keeping of goldfish as pets was declared a cruel practice.

- In Lerici, on the Ligurian Riviera, it is illegal to hang damp towels out of windows to dry.

- In Milan, there’s an old law that requires people to constantly smile while in public places; those exempt from being fined are hospital workers and those attending funerals.

- In Rome, groups of three or more people risk being fined €500 if they are caught singing and/or dancing in the city’s streets. It is also illegal to eat outdoors in  Rome’s historic centre.

- A well-publicised law was passed back in 2012 in the town of Falciano del Massico in Campania. Because the town’s cemetery is full, the mayor, Giulio Cesare Fava, passed a law making it no longer legal for the town’s residents to die. The mayor told the press that his town’s residents were happy with the new law, but unfortunately two elderly citizens had openly disobeyed it.

I’m sure the law forbidding dying is more tongue-in-cheek than strictly administered, and I do wonder who in Turin is counting the dog walkers, while the thought of a warden in uniform handing out non-smiling fines in Milan makes me smile.

But here’s one final law that may not find amusing.

- Despite it being illegal for men to grab their crotches, it is not illegal for a man to pinch a woman’s bottom.