Saturday, August 10, 2013

Ten guidelines for tourists from the City of Venice

City of Venice Information Campaign for Tourists
"Live the City--Venice is yours too, Respect it!"

There are those who would argue that Venice, Italy, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and there are those, like me, who would argue that it is the most beautiful city in the world. So, it’s no surprise when every year millions of tourists cross oceans and continents seeking their own intimate interaction with the city that, as far back as the 1300s, contributed to the Renaissance and controlled European trade with Asia and the Middle East. To understand Venice’s grandeur, past and present, all one needs to do is pause and look. Venice is a work of art, and her treasures are detailed in every corner, arch, façade, nook and cranny. A city so culturally rich that a lifetime isn’t long enough to discover all she has to offer. But Venice isn't a museum or an amusement park. It's home to approximately 60,000 people and a place of work to many more.

It was the mid-80s when I first walked through Venice’s labyrinth of calli: the Berlin wall was still standing, Ronald Reagan was President of the United States, Madonna hadn’t yet traded-in her lace gloves for a leather bustier, and many who ate at the chicest restaurants in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles still opted for French cuisine and had yet to taste their first forkful of risotto or tiramisu. Then, fortunately, the wall came down; the internet sped up; gelato became an internationally recognized word; pre-9/11 air travel became easier; cruise ships filled ports and gave travelers an option; and many who had never dreamt of setting foot outside their country became informed tourists and discovered the art of traveling abroad. Yet in recent years as tourism has developed into Venice’s number one industry many visitors, certainly not all, seem to have forgotten or perhaps never considered simple polite behavior and respect for their surroundings.

This year alone local and international papers and social networks published far too many photographs taken of tourists behaving in ways which are deemed disrespectful to Venice, to the Venetians and to Italy. There was the group sitting in high water in the finest drawing room in Europe, their feet propped up on a café table, while their friends swam—in bathing suits—in a flooded St. Mark’s square; a middle aged man walking around town, his shirt-tails open and flapping in the breeze to reveal a physique that only a doctor should be forced to see, and twenty something year olds in flip-flops and bathing suits sunning themselves while sightseeing in a city where wearing shorts—except if you’re running the Venice Marathon—by local standards is considered unacceptable attire.  Some may find it funny to see people swimming in St. Mark's square, some may think a dress code anywhere, let alone on vacation, is outdated. But I can guarantee that the majority of locals, and the City of Venice, find these situations an insult to their city and their culture.  

So, the City of Venice, in an effort to welcome and inform tourists, has developed a list of 10 guidelines available in seven languages. The decorum list has been posted around town and fliers are being handed out to visiting tourists.  I've duplicated the list in English below to let you in on the guidelines, too. Have a look, and then feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below. If you want to give Venice a helping hand you can share the info with your friends, too. For information in other languages click on this link:

·      Litter

Please do not litter.
Throw rubbish into the nearest waste bin!
Help us keep Venice clean.
(Local bylaw art. 9 and 23
Fine up to 500 euros)
·       Picnicking
Please sit on the bench to eat your picnic.
Remember that the entire area around St. Mark’s Basilica
(throughout St. Mark’s Square, Piazzetta dei leoncini, and right up to the quay/waterfront)
is a no-picnicking area.
Help us look after Venice.
(Local bylaw, art. 23
Fine up to 500 euros)
·       Dress
You may not walk around Venice in swimwear or bare-chested,
nor plunge or take a bath (swim) in canals.
Please behave respectfully in the city. You can find beaches on the Lido Island.
(Local bylaw, art. 12 and art. 23
Fine up to 500 euros)
·       Pigeons
As well as damaging Venice’s artistic heritage, pigeons
carry diseases. Don’t feed them!
Safe guard your health and that of Venice’s monuments.
(Municipal bylaw on environmental health and animal health
And welfare, art. 24 Fine up to 500 euros)
·       Graffiti and bill posting
If you deface Venice through graffiti
or flier-posting you are damaging the city.
Use the official sites for your posters.
Venice is a city of art.
(Local by law, art. 13; for graffiti:
Fines up to 500 euro.
Defacing important monuments is considered a criminal offence.
For fly (flier) posting: fine up to 412 euro)
·       Obstructing Traffic
Given that Venice’s calli, or lanes, are very narrow
you should keep to the right
and avoid lingering on bridges.
Remember not everyone is on holiday, lots of people
live and work in the city. So help us make Venice
a pleasant place for everyone!
·       Transport
When traveling on public transport,
remember to respect other passengers:
put your rucksack (backpack) on the ground,
avoid standing in the entrance, and store
your bags/luggage where the boat staff tells you.
The water buses are the only form of public transport used
by both tourists and locals.
Help us make Venice a better place to live in!
(Local bylaw art. 50
Fine up to 500 euro)
·       Acqua Alta (flooding)
Alternative routes exist in case of acqua alta (flooding).
Use the raised walkways.
Keep to the right, don’t loiter.
Discover how fascinating Venice can be at high tide.
(Note from me: I would have left this last statement out! Acqua alta is not very fascinating for the locals.)
·       Street Vendors
If you buy goods from unlicensed street
vendors you are committing a crime
as well as putting your health at risk.
These products are not subjected to
any form of control. They harm you, the crafts sector
and encourage exploitation of the weak.
(Italian law No. 80/2005 art. 1 par. 7
amended by Italian law 99/2009, art. 17.
Fines up to 7,000 euro + seizure of goods purchased)
·       Disturbing the Peace
Venice is just like every other city:
So respect the neighbors and keep the noise down
after 11 o’clock at night.
You can have fun without disturbing others!
(Local bylaw art. 29.
Fines up to 500 euro)












  1. These are good rules for any Italian City. I just read that an American tourist in Florence knocked the fingers off a 600 year-old statue in the Museo del Duomo. Who touches statues in an art museum. Can't wait to see Venice this fall - a most beautiful and fascinating city.
    THanks for this good post.
    Barb in Minnesota

  2. You're right Barbara! These guidelines, of course except for the acqua alta, apply to tourists traveling to any historical city; whether in Italy or elsewhere.

    Thank you for leaving a comment, and enjoy your visit to Venice this fall!


  3. I imagine you're preaching to the choir where visitors to your blog are concerned, Marie. But I'm glad the city is trying to educate visitors who may not realize that their bad behavior insults those who live and work in—and love—Venice.