Venice bans morning coffee breaks and bermuda shorts for city employees

The mayor of the city of Venice has introduced a series of behavioural measures and a new dress code for the city's public sector staff.

Venice bans morning coffee breaks and bermuda shorts for city employees
File photo: twindesigner/Depositphotos

Grabbing a cup of coffee on the way to a work station is a rite of passage many office workers hold as sacred. Not to mention in Italy, where 'la pausa del caffè' (a coffee break) is an institutionalised morning ritual.

A new set of norms for council workers approved by Venice's mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, aims, however, to run a tighter ship in the city home to more than 170 canals.

Coffee breaks are not mentioned per se, although the new adopted norms state council workers, once clocked in, should “refrain from carrying out activities that delay the effective starting of service,” reports Italian daily Repubblica. In a nutshell, arrivederci caffè for the city's 2,600 or so council workers. 

Best to bring your own coffee if you work for Venice's municipality. File photo: ArturVerkhovetskiy/Depositphotos

The new measures also ban the wearing of bermuda shorts, even when temperatures exceed 40 degrees Celsius in summer.  

Internet and mobile phones should also only be “used in compliance with the constraints of the administration, and only for institutional purposes.”

Several councils across Italy have introduced similar measures in recent years with a view to reducing distractions for employees during working hours. 


In Jesi, a town in the Le Marche region, council workers are now forbidden to leave the council building without prior authorization during their shifts. In Trieste, council staff have been told not to drink alcohol on their lunch breaks.

Venice had already introduced specific dress code guidelines for municipal police in February 2018. Female officers are allowed to wear a single ring and a small necklace, but earrings are only allowed if they are “spheric or semi-spheric”. Male officers, however, cannot wear earrings or display body piercings. 

Women serving in the force should also not wear coloured bras that are visible under their uniform. The same guidelines also stipulate that women cannot go to work with “bizarre or unusual” hairstyles, according to a report in local daily La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre. 

Some of the guidelines for municipal police have been criticised by stakeholders. Daniele Giordano, secretary general of the Italian Confederation of Labour and Industry in Venice, reportedly described the dress code for police officers in Venice as “offensive and absurd” at the time.

READ MORE: Twelve authentic spots to eat and drink on a budget in Venice


Italy to pay €57m compensation over Venice cruise ship ban

The Italian government announced on Friday it would pay 57.5 million euros in compensation to cruise companies affected by the decision to ban large ships from Venice's fragile lagoon.

A cruise ship in St Mark's Basin, Venice.
The decision to limit cruise ship access to the Venice lagoon has come at a cost. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The new rules, which took effect in August, followed years of warnings that the giant floating hotels risked causing irreparable damage to the lagoon city, a UNESCO world heritage site.

READ ALSO: Venice bans large cruise ships from centre after Unesco threat of ‘endangered’ status

Some 30 million euros has been allocated for 2021 for shipping companies who incurred costs in “rescheduling routes and refunding passengers who cancelled trips”, the infrastructure ministry said in a statement.

A further 27.5 million euros – five million this year and the rest in 2022 – was allocated for the terminal operator and related companies, it said.

The decision to ban large cruise ships from the centre of Venice in July came just days before a meeting of the UN’s cultural organisation Unesco, which had proposed adding Venice to a list of endangered heritage sites over inaction on cruise ships.

READ ALSO: Is Venice really banning cruise ships from its lagoon?

Under the government’s plan, cruise ships will not be banned from Venice altogether but the biggest vessels will no longer be able to pass through St Mark’s Basin, St Mark’s Canal or the Giudecca Canal. Instead, they’ll be diverted to the industrial port at Marghera.

But critics of the plan point out that Marghera – which is on the mainland, as opposed to the passenger terminal located in the islands – is still within the Venice lagoon.

Some aspects of the plan remain unclear, as infrastructure at Marghera is still being built. Meanwhile, smaller cruise liners are still allowed through St Mark’s and the Giudecca canals.

Cruise ships provide a huge economic boost to Venice, but activists and residents say the ships contribute to problems caused by ‘overtourism’ and cause large waves that undermine the city’s foundations and harm the fragile ecosystem of its lagoon.