New Rules for St. Mark’s Square, Venice
There are two rules that tourists should know about before traveling to Venice.
Sitting on the ground while eating is no longer allowed in St Mark’s Square in Venice. There are now official guardians, working for Vesta, the new municipal agency in Venice, who will politely tell you that picnicking is not allowed.
It is also illegal to feed the pigeons in St. Marks Square. The mayor’s office issued the ban because of burgeoning numbers of birds being fed by tourists who want a picture of themselves covered in pigeons.
It has been illegal to feed pigeons in Venice for years, but San Marcos square was excepted because of the tourists.
More than 13,000 pigeons travel through St. Marks Square every day. The birds leave monuments and more than a few tourists covered with pigeon droppings. The birds can also spread disease. When we were there, I felt it necessary to wear a hat to protect myself from the dirty birds. We avoided San Marcos square in the daytime to eliminate our chances of getting soiled.
Fines are now issued to tourists who feed the pigeons with fines ranging from about $80 to more than $700.
Several long standing, bird-feed stands went out of business because of the ban. Owners protested with placards asking the mayor, “What kind of Venetian are you?”
Venice hosts 20 million tourists a year and these new restrictions are a way to keep Venice clean and charming, and I say hallelujah to that!