The mayor of Venice has decided to take what it hopes will be effective action against the hundreds of illegal peddlers, for the most part illegal foreigners, who crowd the narrow streets and bridges of the lagoon city selling counterfeit wares and other, generally non-Italian, artefacts. An inventive measure, signed into law urgently last week by mayor Massimo Cacciari following the Italian government's recent decision to give greater powers to mayors in relation to security, prohibits the use of giant plastic bags, large duffel bags and other such containers for the transport of merchandise through and across the city.

The new measure, the latest in a series of attempts to free the historic centre of Venice of what is generally recognized to be an eyesore, took effect on Monday, 16 June. The city has been trying to crack down on the phenomenon of "commercio abusivo" , illegal vending, for some time now but was spurred into additional action when first a local pedestrian, and then a tourist, were hurt seriously after being knocked down by peddlers fleeing police with the large sacks and/or valises the former use to transport their wares. The city had already declared the downtown area of "La Serenissima" off limits to the display of goods by unlicensed hawkers The new ordinance will also consider suspect a prolonged stay in any one spot by people carrying such containers.

Sari Gilbert

Stranitalia

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