SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

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

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

CULTURE

Venice Carnival: What to expect if you’re attending in 2023

After three years of toned-down celebrations, Venice's famous Carnival is finally set to return to its former grandeur. Here’s what you need to know about this year’s edition.

Venice Carnival: What to expect if you're attending in 2023

The historic Venice Carnival – a tradition which dates back to the late 14th century – will be back in all of its splendour this year as the upcoming edition of the festival will be the first one without pandemic-related restrictions since 2019. 

As the undisputed queen of Italian Carnival, Venice will once again put on a full programme of water parades, masked balls, fine dining experiences and street art performances spread over 18 days of sheer carnevale fun.

If you’re planning on taking part in the city’s Carnival celebrations, here’s a quick guide to this year’s main events.

What are the dates?

The Venice Carnival will officially start on Saturday, February 4th with a night parade streaming down the city’s iconic Grand Canal accompanied by music, dance performances and light shows.

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

The parade will kick off two weeks of events, unfolding both in the centro storico (city centre) and on the smaller islands of the lagoon.

As always though, celebrations will peak in the six days between giovedì grasso (‘Fat Thursday’, falling on February 16th) and martedì grasso (shrove Tuesday, falling on February 21st). 

A masked reveller wearing a traditional carnival costume In St Mark's Square, Venice

The 2023 Venice Carnival will start with a floating parade down the Grand Canal on February 4th. Photo by Andrea PATTARO / AFP

The most popular and widely anticipated events of the Venice Carnival are scheduled to take place during those days. However, that will also be the time when the city’s calli and squares will be most crowded. 

What are the main events?

Celebrations will start with the above-mentioned floating parade on Saturday, February 4th, and continue on the following day with another water parade involving traditional Venetian vessels and captained by the beloved Pantegana (a boat shaped like a giant sewer rat).

Apart from that, the Festa delle Marie – a historic beauty pageant during which 12 young local women are dressed up in Renaissance costumes, paraded throughout the city, and then subjected to a vote as to which of them makes the best Maria – will start on Saturday, February 11th. 

The winner of the contest will be announced in Saint Mark’s Square on shrove Tuesday, the final day of the festival. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why Venice has delayed its ‘tourist tax’ – again

Original Signs, a music and dancing show performed on six floating stages set within the iconic Venetian Arsenal (the former seat of the Venetian navy), will begin on Friday, February 10th, with performances running on a nearly daily basis until the end of the festival.

Original Signs will run alongside Original Sinners, a fine dining experience followed by a masked ball at the magnificent Ca’ Vendramin Calergi, a 15th century palace facing the Grand Canal which is also the current seat of Venice’s Casino. 

As with Original Signs, the event will be available to the public on multiple dates.

Masked revellers wearing a traditional carnival costume pose in St Mark Square, Venice

The historic ‘Flight of the Angel’ will not take place this year due to ongoing work in St Mark’s Square. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

Aside from major events, street art performances, workshops, exhibitions and seminars will take place at various venues across the city for the entire duration of the festival. Some of these require booking in advance, which you can do on the Venice Carnival official website

On a rather sombre note, the Volo dell’Angelo (‘Flight of the Angel’), the traditional ceremony in which a costumed woman ‘flies’ down a cable from the bell tower in Saint Mark’s Square to the centre of the piazza, will not be performed this year due to ongoing repair work

How busy will it be?

The 2023 edition of the Venice Carnival is expected to mark a “final return to normality”, according to local media.  

And, with just a couple of days to go until the official start of the festival, it looks like the floating city is about to experience pre-pandemic numbers of visitors – current estimates indicate that around half a million people will visit the city over Carnival.

According to Claudio Scarpa, president of Venice’s Hoteliers Association, local hotels “will soon be all but fully booked for weekends”, though large numbers of bookings are also being registered on weekdays, especially those in “the last stages of the festival”.

Given the expected turnout, local transport operator ACTV will enhance their services for the entire duration of the Carnival to avoid overcrowding on buses and water buses. 

For more details about the Venice Carnival and bookings, see the festival’s official website

SHOW COMMENTS