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Venice fines tourists: Germans punished for making coffee near bridge

Better pay attention to the new laws or your next picnic could prove very expensive! Like €950!

Source

Posted by
10056 posts

Happy to see the authorities are actually enforcing the laws. Last trip there, we encountered so many problems with people sprawling on bridges, eating take out food, making it challenging to pass on the way to and from our lodging, and we were a bit off the usual path, not near a major piazza.

Posted by
11450 posts

That is a ridiculous fine - you get fined less for endangering lives by speeding . Seriously you could drive drunk and pay a lesser fine in most places !

Money grab .

Don’t like Venice anyways - glad I’ve seen it twice ( over 30 years ) but no desire to go back , packed with other tourists , meals are overpriced and mediocre at best .

Posted by
11450 posts

Laurel people eat take out there as most restaurants are over priced crap .

Posted by
2472 posts

Sorry, I agree with Laurel. It’s one thing to eat take out and another to actually plop down and make coffee at the bottom of the bridge. Go back to your accommodations or sit down at a cafe. I wouldn’t accept this behavior in any city.

Posted by
8293 posts

Personally, I think it looks gross when I see people eating a slice of pizza or a huge sandwich while sitting on the steps of a beautiful site, such as the Rialto Bridge or an ancient revered church. Find a park bench, for Pete’s sake, no one needs to make their way past you as you gorge on fast food.

Posted by
4667 posts

There was a programme on the BBC this week regarding the best places to eat in Venice. Due to the logistics of bringing in fresh, decent food it becomes prohibitively expensive and therefore so many restaurants resort to short cuts and cheap crap, their thought is that the tourists are unlikely to return so sell them crap at inflated prices.

I'm one of those who doesn't view food as fuel so decent food is a big factor in deciding where to travel. Not only that but I find crowds a real struggle to deal with so with both things combined Venice is off my list.

Posted by
27743 posts

Oh JC, wouldn't you love to become close friends with Bruno's cooking? And chat with Luca? I know I would...

Posted by
10056 posts

Over many visits to Venice we have found a wide variety of decent-to-great restaurants, often away from crowds but where reservations are a (usually) a must. Overpriced? Far cheaper than eating in a similar quality restaurant in London and no more than we usually paid in Rome. For those who want to picnic or otherwise save money on lodging can rent an apartment or go to one of the parks where it is allowed to picnic.

Posted by
13085 posts

Bruno doesn't go out to eat very often, because Paola is such a good cook.

He does occasionally meet his father-in-law at Florians for coffee, but they probably get the locals' price.

As for me, I agree with Laurel; there are good restaurants in Venice but you have to research a bit. And we generally prefer to cook our own meals in an apartment.

Posted by
3491 posts

They heated water on a camp stove on the steps of a bridge. They then cooked the coffee in the heated water to whatever type of brew they were trying to achieve.

I really don't care if someone sits on the steps and drinks coffee, but firing up a camp stove could be dangerous in a crowded situation. Someone could knock over the stove. Someone could get burned by the flame or scalded by the water. Just buy a cup.

Posted by
4667 posts

Oh JC, wouldn't you love to become close friends with Bruno's cooking? And chat with Luca? I know I would...

Absolutely Nigel, absolutely but I just couldn't handle the crowds. Besides, Angela Hartnett is close enough to me and her food is a perfectly acceptable replacement and the setting is much more to my liking, www.limewoodhotel.co.uk/food.

Posted by
13508 posts

Can you elaborate on the story a bit? Tourist were fined for what?

Click "Source" in Jim's thread-subject post.

Posted by
1821 posts

The camping stove really puts it over the top but looking like homeless people doesn't help either. If they tried it at Disneyland they'd probably get the death penalty.

Posted by
27743 posts

What does it matter that they were German? They were people. Misbehaving people, but people. They could have been orange/blue candy stripe - doesn't matter, does it?

Posted by
3933 posts

I thought seeing the photo that it looks like they are backpacking - maybe sleeping rough and didn't have a spot inside to make a coffee. Or perhaps they arrived very early by train (did that once after an overnight train from Salzburg, arriving at 7 or 8 am) and their accoms weren't ready. That being said, they should have picked a less conspicuous place or went to a cafe.

Posted by
3789 posts

@Nicole P, my thoughts too. I doubt they can afford the fine, but it makes good headlines and most likely gets them out of town.

Posted by
1492 posts

The two Berlin people (yes from my city) just ignored the clear and published rules and warnings. And I fully support the decision of the Venice police.

"Important: don't litter on the ground or throw refuse into the water and note that there are fines for those who lay or sit on the ground in St. Mark’s Square and the surrounding area and picnic or litter in these areas."

Source: https://www.veneziaunica.it/en/content/etiquette-venice

See also: German article with picture.

No need to discuss whether this rule is fair or not, it exists on host's decision and is clearly communicated. Story done.

Posted by
8405 posts

Aware or unaware of written rules doesn’t matter. It’s a walkway, not a campground. Their selfishness blocking the passageway got them booted. Ciao.

Posted by
31471 posts

The pictures give the impression that they're "backpackers" and probably travelling on a limited budget. I suspect they've used that same coffee brewing method at many other places around Europe and never had any problems. If they had done that at a less prominent location than the Rialto Bridge, they may not have had a problem as there would be fewer people to "rat them out" to the authorities. It will be an expensive lesson for them.

I wonder if the €10 per person charge for short term visitors will apply to cruise ship passengers?

Posted by
1492 posts

I wonder if the €10 per person charge for short term visitors will
apply to cruise ship passengers?

It was made for and against too many cruise ship passengers and people who do not want to spend money in the city.

Posted by
3662 posts

Looking at the pictures from the German newspaper, they were not in the walkway of the bridge, but out of the way in the triangular landing in the middle of this picture.

https://www.google.com/maps/@45.4380912,12.3355979,3a,75y,63.84h,83.4t/data=!3m8!1e1!3m6!1sAF1QipP0s2_gbtKH4A60V8ZuVd9gVRdQvMpC_7b1LU5v!2e10!3e11!6shttps:%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2Fp%2FAF1QipP0s2_gbtKH4A60V8ZuVd9gVRdQvMpC_7b1LU5v%3Dw203-h100-k-no-pi10.557314-ya270.46902-ro-7.248271-fo100!7i7200!8i3600

I think it's all over the top. The Rialto is not near St Mark's (define "surrounding area"), they weren't swimming or wearing bathing suits. It's not clear any regulations were broken. There are too many tourists in Venice, that's for sure, but don't take it out on these poor backpackers, that coffee is probably their whole lunch. The homemade coffee looks pretty undrinkable, BTW.

Posted by
8293 posts

Tom, I disagree with you entirely. Whether these two people fired up their little stove on the Rialto steps, in the centre of San Marco or at a vaporetto stop, it is a disgusting thing to do and to be seen doing. If you can’t even afford to buy a cup of coffee when you travel, then maybe you should wait until you can so that others aren’t put off and inconvenienced by your lack of respect and just decent manners.

Posted by
3789 posts

@Tom, here are the FAQs for the City of Venice. Article 23 is the eating in public article. It states 'in all the city' and especially in St. Mark's area. Not just St. Mark's square
https://www.comune.venezia.it/en/content/faq
And for those who don't click links:
Articles 12, 23, 28 and 49 of Urban Police Regulations include many specific rules/laws to respect in all the city and especially in St. Mark’s area.
It is forbidden to:
◾lie down on public territory and/or even sit or stand at any time in order to consume food or drink
◾litter
◾dive or bathe in streams, canals and/or the St. Mark’s Basin
◾ride – or lead by hand – a bike or use other unofficial means of transport
◾be involved in dangerous or harassing activities
◾undress in public
◾walk around with a nude chest or in swimwear.
An administrative fine from €25.00 to €500.00 (according to art. 7 bis of Italian Legislative Decree no. 267 of 18th August 2000) is liable.
Please remember that you are not allowed to buy from illegal street pedlars. The liable fine for the purchase of counterfeit goods ranges from 100 to 7,000 euros. Moreover according to art. 17 of Italian Law 99/2009 the purchased items will be confiscated.

Posted by
8405 posts

It’s unfair to today’s young ( thirties??) that they can’t do what we used to do back in the 1970s, but the world has changed, and with our increased population everywhere, cities have to set limits so we can all exist side by side.

The little out of the way triangle leads to a shrine to either the Virgin or one of the Saints. The two were neither on a bench nor at a table, per Venice rules. As for firing up a camp stove, that’s one the authorities will have to address. Certainly there will be more situations the authorities never dreamed of to hash over.

Posted by
3662 posts

◾It is forbidden to:...sit or stand at any time in order to consume food or drink

Well, that's not very welcoming!

Posted by
11450 posts

The fine itself isn’t disgusting - it’s the AMOUNT of the fine that bothers me - speeding tickets are cheaper and you can kill someone speeding .

I still think it’s a very nasty cash grab and I hope they don’t pay it .

Ps I was young once and did three months in Europe on a budget - best trip of my life - and sorry of my eating crackers and cheese ruined someone’s holiday ( not ) .

Authorities could have given them a 50 euro fine ( which they likely would have paid ) and made the same point .

Posted by
5865 posts

sit or stand at any time in order to consume food or drink
Well, that's not very welcoming

That means no enjoying a Gelato canalside I suppose.

Posted by
1103 posts

"and/or even sit or stand at any time in order to consume food or drink" !!! Oh dear! How many times I've done just that while standing outside a cicchetti bar, food and drink in hand, with many other folks also doing just that!

Posted by
3789 posts

Gelato seems to get a pass. It's the people taking up walking space, trashing monument steps, adding undue wear and tear to ancient stonework, littering, impeding foot traffic, and loitering around high traffic areas that cause the problems for others. Washing pizza sauce off the steps of 15C buildings is bound to accelerate deterioration....or bring pests. Perhaps the restaurants on the squares also don't want the competition for customers.

Posted by
503 posts

Hi Pat,

Yes, it's a lot of money but I think (and I could be wrong) that it was set so high as to discourage others from doing the same thing. The view from there is lovely and the few restaurants with that view are expensive so I can easily see others putting together their own picnic and enjoying it in that spot. If the fine were significantly lower, many would think it was still worth it. It seems to me it's a tough balancing act for the Venetians - they need tourism in order to survive but too much tourism makes the experience of Venice much more difficult and thus people come away with a bad feeling about Venice - not exactly what they want.

Posted by
2246 posts

Norma, I disagree with you entirely. However I shall still await your every post, as per usual.

Your loyal fan, except on this one itsy bitsy post,

Dave

Posted by
8293 posts

Aw, sorry to disappoint you, Dave. I will try to do better, every day in every way.

Posted by
8405 posts

Cheese and crackers, Pat—that sweeps up or feeds the pigeons.

I was eating canned sardines on a baguette I split with my trusty Opinal on church steps all over southern Europe. Talk about a stinking tourist. I was probably spilling that oily tomato sauce all over the place. No other tourists around but I remember the grandmothers giving me dirty looks.

Posted by
358 posts

So, these two travel to Italy, where there's literally millions of shops that serve coffee. There's so much coffee available that it's a national commodity that rarely is priced over €2....yet, these two have the gall to not only set-up their backpacking stove and fire-up a pot, they do it right next to the Rialto on the Grand Canal? In full view, of one of the world's most photographed structures in the world.... I'm all in favor of screwing up somebodies staged selfie but, to play homeless in Venice and think you'd get away with it...

No, do not find their behavior disgusting, however I do find them clueless and not terribly bright. They were so situationally unaware or, careless, that they couldn't have set-up oh...the backside Dorsoduro or, Castello.

Posted by
1492 posts

The Rialto is not near St Mark's (define "surrounding area")

One half of Rialto bridge is on side of San Marco district which I would define as obvious area around Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square).

Also one more sentence from a German traveler perspective: as a German traveler you normally look into very good and reliable travel and security info provided by German Federal Foreign Office. There they state very clearly that in Italy tourists can expect local behaviour regulations and "draconic" fines for violations. As examples picnic in Rome and collecting sand or stones on Sardinia are explicitely mentioned (source). Only putting a finger into Rome's Fontana di Trevi or collecting one stone from a Sardinian beach can cost you between 500 and 3,000 EUR.

Posted by
11832 posts

Rules for picnics in Venice, Spanish Steps, etc. Tolls to see old centers... You would think Italy doesn't appreciate tourists? ;-)

I love Venice - just not before mid-October (and excluding holidays, weekends and festivals). Find a quiet day and it's magic.

Italy has become one of my least favorite places for locals (but wonderful sights).

The people in France are a delight in comparison. I keep wondering why French get such a bad wrap?Have people been to Italy?

Posted by
4667 posts

The people in France are a delight in comparison. I keep wondering why French get such a bad wrap?Have people been to Italy?

Never had a problem with either however I acknowledge the reasons for the crackdown on unsuitable behaviour. The old cities and their monuments, building, attractions etc need protecting and the Venetians, Romans, Parisians et al should do everything in their power to protect them. It's their heritage, their history and neither you nor I are entitled to go there and do as we wish. Acting like we're doing them a favour as tourists is simply arrogant.

Posted by
82 posts

Avoid Venice in peak season and you avoid the worst tourists, the tourist crush, and higher prices. Stay away from the main drags from either the Piazza Roma bus station/parking lot or the train station to San Marco, and you also avoid the worst of the tourists.

It's pretty simple--all these dramatic stories of places being 'loved to death' and 'over crowded' usually mean they are that way in peak season. Go a few months later and hang with the locals. I've had phenomenal meals in Venice, btw, for a pretty good price.

Venice is amazing off the tourist season and the main drag. So many wonderful small churches and funky little museums. I have not set foot in San Marco the last 4 times I've been. It's amazing, but I've seen it. Now Piazza San Marco late at night or early in the morning--magic!

Ciao,
Scott

Posted by
8293 posts

So, Tom-MN .....
Are you saying that because the couple were German, and not because they were making coffee on a little stove at the Rialto Bridge, the authorities got upset? If they had been Swedish or Canadian, then, would that have made it OK with the “eating outside in Venice cops” ? Quite a theory.

Posted by
3662 posts

Several things:

  1. Links have already proven the coffee making did not occur in a trafficked area.
  2. This isn’t a preservation of the old structures issue, there’s no wear on the stones by making coffee. This is a cultural affront issue.
  3. If you look at the link I provided above, there are about 4500 euros in uncollected fines: 6 people sitting on the stone ground, 4 additional people wading, 1 drinking water, all forbidden activities, finable activities. Is it far-fetched to say that these people are not hassled because they are not wearing hippie clothes or looking rather indigent?
  4. I have many times seen women turned away from entrance to Italian churches for too short shorts or singlet tops, and men with the same violations are allowed entrance immediately afterward, so if gender affects enforcement of rules, why not appearance?
  5. How many tourists have left Venice muttering, "the public coffee making is such a problem, they really need to crack down on that."
  6. Would Londoners really care about the coffee making in a similar, out of the immediate way setting, or if a policeman did care, then wouldn’t an embarrassing shooing away have sufficed?
Posted by
1016 posts

Links have already proven the coffee making did not occur in a trafficked area.

Although not a through-way, plenty of people walk into that area. Plus, it's right next to shrine.

This isn’t a preservation of the old structures issue, there’s no wear on the stones by making coffee. This is a cultural affront issue.

It's a legal issue, not a cultural affront issue.

Is it far-fetched to say that these people are not hassled because they are not wearing hippie clothes or looking rather indigent?

Far-fetched or not, it's an assumption made by you with no backing proof.

if gender affects enforcement of rules, why not appearance?

Another assumption

How many tourists have left Venice muttering, "the public coffee making is such a problem, they really need to crack down on that."

I would hope the City of Venice tailors its laws for its citizens, not its visitors.

wouldn’t an embarrassing shooing away have sufficed?

To me, the fine does seem too hefty for the crime, I agree with that. However, Venice and its citizens get to make their own laws, so we who visit are bound by them.

Posted by
3662 posts

However, Venice and its citizens get to make their own laws, so we who visit are bound by them.

Yes, and we are free to think it's pretty silly to ban public drinking of water (and have 15,000 violations/day), and recognize that the core issue of tourist crowding and often Disneyesque atmosphere goes unaddressed.

Posted by
1016 posts

Yes, and we are free to think it's pretty silly to ban public drinking of water (and have 15,000 violations/day),

Do you have a source for this?

And, of course we can think whatever we want. But to cast aspersions about these people being singled out due to appearance or what country they are from is something different.

Also, I agree that the core issue is overcrowding, and I fervently wish Venice devises some system to address it.

Posted by
3662 posts

Do you have a source for this?

I'm guessing how many potential fines there could be by the illegal sips people are taking out of personal water bottles while walking, in the summer it must be a very high number.

I agree that the core issue is overcrowding, and I fervently wish Venice devises some system to address it.

Something like setting a number of maximum number tourists per day based on a ratio of residents to tourists would be a start, however that's best achieved (a daily permit fee? something else?).

Posted by
1492 posts

It is not the host to excuse for anything. It shall be the guest to excuse for violationg any rules of the host. It does no matter if the guest like the rules or not.

@emma: fully following your opinion. No reason to excuse.

@Tom: you have proven really nothing relevant - and all your opinions really do not matter as long as you are not head of justice or police in Venice. Again: stop that harrassment.

Posted by
1842 posts

Does not seem like a typical German thing to do, from my experience. Maybe this behavior is "normal" in some countries? Just asking.

It's really kind of funny to me.

As for restaurants catering to tourists, well maybe there is some logic to most people not returning, thus the motivation for providing a great meal is mitigated. These eating establishments have a large and captive audience.

Posted by
12891 posts

What they did was at best ill-advised, at worst downright stupid. Beyond my imagination to do something like that but then my imagination is limited in that sort of situation.

No disputing or denying that crowds in the summer inundate Venice. It's on my bucket list in the summer too.

Posted by
1016 posts

Tom, where have you read that drinking water from your own bottle while walking around is illegal?

Posted by
13085 posts

“The coffee-making did not occur in a trafficked area. . .” But the ban is on sitting on canal banks to picnic as well as on church steps and bridges. See No. 7 on this list:

https://www.comune.venezia.it/en/content/buone-pratiche-il-visitatore-responsabile

As for Tom_MN’s proposal to fine everyone who takes a sip from a water bottle in Piazza San Marco, the language of the prohibition mentions “standing” to eat or drink (unless one is patronizing one of the coffee shops or bars there).