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TOURISM

Nine ways to get into trouble while visiting Venice

With bans on everything from beachwear to snacking in the wrong places, there are a few things you should know before a trip to famously rule-heavy Venice.

Nine ways to get into trouble while visiting Venice
It may be easier than you think to cause trouble in Venice. Here's how to stay on the right side of the law - and local residents. Photo by ANDREA PATTARO / AFP

By now, most regular visitors to Italy know better than to do things like bathe in fountains, wander the streets and piazzas in revealing swimwear, or pocket pieces of the local monuments. All of the above could land you with a hefty fine.

READ ALSO: ‘Bikini ban’: Why Italy’s Sorrento has outlawed swimwear

But while the above rules might appear fairly obvious, over the years a number of Italian destinations have introduced more eyebrow-raising bans, mainly in the name of preserving ‘decorum’.

Venice, the crown jewel of northern Italy, in particular boasts a rather lengthy list of “forbidden behaviours”, aimed at “preserv[ing] urban cleanliness and landscape, and also for reasons of safety and public hygiene”.

Now, if you’re thinking that these measures are the urban equivalent of a scarecrow and are only in place to ‘frighten’ visitors into respecting the city, think again.

The regulations are enforced day in and day out by local authorities, and those flouting the rules do receive steep fines – as in the example of two German backpackers fined a total of 950 euros in summer 2019 after being caught making coffee on the Rialto Bridge.

So here’s a quick look at what NOT to do to avoid getting in trouble while visiting Venice.

  • As you may have heard, Venice has a strict beachwear ban. Don’t walk around bare-chested or in a swimsuit, unless you want to risk being fined 250 euros.
  • No eating or drinking while sitting on the ground or on the steps of the city’s monuments. The same goes for those who might be tempted to have a snack while sitting astride a bridge railing. Transgressors receive a fine of 100-200 euros and, above all, a city ban (also known as DASPO urbano), i.e. they will be immediately and indefinitely banned from the city.
  • Though the traditionally murky waters might not be that enticing at first sight, the summer heat still tempts some visitors into swimming in the canals. Don’t do it. The fine here is 350 euros and, again, it comes with a city ban.

  • Don’t feed the pigeons or seagulls. As a Venice resident, I can assure you that the local fauna is doing just fine and is in no need of external assistance. Fines for feeding the city’s birds range from 25 to 500 euros.
  • Bicycles and e-scooters are forbidden in the city centre, even when only led by hand. However, you can use them in Lido, Pellestrina and Punta Sabbioni.
  • No camping in public areas. Check before you pitch a tent or bivouac – you could be hit with a 200-euro fine and a city ban. Camping is allowed in Lido, Punta Sabbioni or in the mainland.
  • Don’t buy items from street peddlers. You can be fined anything from 100 to 7,000 euros for buying counterfeit goods. Also, unsurprisingly, any purchased item will be confiscated.
  • Don’t litter or dump rubbish in public areas. This one might sound obvious but, like the accompanying rule against dog fouling, exists for a reason. Fine: 350 euros.
  • Dogs must be on a leash and wear a muzzle on public transport, whereas smaller animals must be transported in a carrier. You can be denied access to the service otherwise.

Bonus unofficial rules

While these aren’t legally enforceable, flouting the following unspoken rules could incur the wrath of the locals – something that could be far more unpleasant than a fine.

  • Don’t block the calli. Venice is known for its narrow streets, or calli. Try not to stop in the middle of a calle or a bridge to avoid creating blockages and, above all, spare yourself the rage of residents going about their day. If possible, always stand on the right so as to allow people to walk past you.
  • Take off your backpack on public transport. The city’s buses and waterbuses (or vaporetti) are usually very crowded, especially during peak hours and over the summer months. So this will decrease your chances of hitting other passengers in the face.
  • Be quiet. Venice is a relatively small city, with most houses overlooking at least one calle. When walking through residential areas, try to be as silent as you possibly can to avoid upsetting residents.
  • Recycle properly. If you’re staying in an apartment or flat, don’t forget about recycling and waste collection. Find out more via a mobile app offered by Veritas, the local waste management company.
Tourists fined for consuming food on the ground in Venice
 

What isn’t banned

You may have heard that wheelie suitcases are banned in Venice, but in fact you can safely bring them to the city. A ban on dragging luggage through the streets was proposed in 2014 due to the noise, but it was never enacted. 

That doesn’t mean residents will appreciate being woken by the sound of your rolling luggage rumbling through the calli, so refer to the unofficial rule above and take care if you arrive late at night.

READ ALSO: Drink from fountains not plastic bottles, Venice tells visitors

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TOURISM

What you need to know about Italy’s free museum Sundays

Want to see the Colosseum or Michelangelo’s David for free? You can on Italy’s free museum Sundays.

What you need to know about Italy’s free museum Sundays

People across Italy will be able to visit museums for free once again this Sunday, August 7th, under the nationwide Domenica al Museo or ‘free museum Sundays’ scheme allowing ticketless entry on the first Sunday of every month.

First introduced in 2014, the offer was suspended during the coronavirus pandemic amid concerns about crowding but reinstated in April 2022.

READ ALSO: What to do in Rome this August

As tickets for major historical sites and museums in Italy often cost upwards of €15 per person, there are big savings to be made and the free Sundays scheme is understandably popular among both tourists and residents.

The remaining dates for the year are: August 7th, September 4th, October 2nd, November 6th, and December 4th.

Where can I go?

The scheme applies to hundreds of state-run museums, archaeological parks and monuments, including world-famous sites like the Colosseum, Pompeii, Florence’s Galleria dell’Accademia, the Reggia di Caserta and Trieste’s Miramare Castle.

The offer does not apply to sites that are run by local authorities rather than the state, though many cities run similar initiatives of their own.

READ ALSO: Nine ways to get into trouble while visiting Venice

Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

How do I book a free ticket?

In many cases you don’t need to and can simply turn up and walk in.

However, some venues such as Rome’s Galleria Borghese require advance booking, so it’s always wise to find the attraction’s website and check the rules before you go.

Are there any Covid restrictions?

Right now the Italian government does not have any health restrictions in place for museums.

The culture ministry recommends visitors wear masks, but this is no longer obligatory.

Individual venues – as well as local authorities – can however set their own requirements, so it’s another thing you may want to check before your visit.

Will museums be overcrowded?

This really depends on where you go. Italy most famous attractions always draw huge crowds in summer – free entrance or otherwise – while lesser-known spots or those outside the major tourist areas may be less chaotic.

But frankly, it’s likely to be busy in most places. The scheme was cancelled in 2019 (and then reinstated after a change of government) due to concerns about long queues and overcrowding – long before anyone had heard of Covid-19.

Some sites capped visitor numbers when the scheme was initially reinstated in spring but it’s unclear how many still do this.

What else should I know?

You can find a full list of the sites included and links to further information for each on the Italian culture ministry’s website here.

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