Oddly Enough

Venice wants St Mark's tourists dressed and tidy

VENICE, Italy (Reuters) - Venice will deploy stewards in Saint Mark’s square to prevent tourists from stripping off their T-shirts, taking a nap or dropping fast-food wrappers in the piazza that Napoleon dubbed “the drawing room of Europe”.

Officials said on Friday they wanted to improve decorum and cleanliness in a square that has long been one of the world’s biggest tourist attractions, bordered by St Mark’s Basilica and Clocktower, the Doge’s Palace and the Grand Canal.

“Six stewards, men and women, will explain to tourists that it is not a good idea to eat, camp out, lay down or walk around the city bare-chested,” said the deputy mayor, Michele Vianello, adding that the stewards would not be handing out fines.

Wealthier tourists to the square sip their espresso in style at the Caffe Florian, which dates from 1720 and was frequented by the likes of Goethe, Casanova, Byron and Proust. But in a pricey city, many more opt for take-away refreshments.

Now the canal city is also working on laws to stop the sale of fast food in the square “to try to limit the amount or rubbish which is difficult for us to clean up”, Vianello told Reuters.

The city, a protected UNESCO World Heritage site, has in the past taken action to ban young backpackers from sleeping on the steps of the Basilica.

Additional reporting by Carlo Saccon