The Venice tourism site lists a bunch of rules. Okay, no swimming in the canals, and littering is also not allowed (duh?). But there's something baffling to me here:

“No standing at any time” – even to consume food and drink, with the exclusion of restaurants, cafés, and refreshment areas.

Is this really the case? No standing still at all? It seems bizarre, surely it's much worse to be checking a map, your phone, or using a camera while remaining in motion at all times?

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    "E’ proibito comunque sostare per consumare cibi o bevande ad esclusione delle aree in concessione ai Pubblici Esercizi." means "However, it is forbidden to stop to consume food or drinks except for the areas in concession to Public Spaces Used Commercially" [Pubblici Esercizi = Public 'Exercices', ie when local government exercice their right to use public spaces for commercial use]. So the not standing rule is about consuming food and beverages, You can stand to take pictures, chat with people, etc. But not to eat or drink.
    – user67108
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 6:10
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    That quote basically means no picnics.
    – JoErNanO
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 11:40
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    @dda, "pubblici esercizi" does not refer to places used by the local government. It refers to any kind of privately owned business that is open to the public. What you are referring to are the "aree in concessione" that more or less means "city-owned areas that are being rented". Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 19:51
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    No lollygagging. Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 9:36
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    littering is also not allowed (duh?) you probably have never visited Venice... it looks like most people don't get it...
    – Bakuriu
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 22:14

5 Answers 5


No, standing is not illegal in Venice. I think the quote got lost in translation. The Italian version says:

È proibito comunque sostare per consumare cibi o bevande ad esclusione delle aree in concessione ai Pubblici Esercizi.  

As a native Italian speaker, I would translate this as:

It is forbidden to stop to eat or drink except in areas designated to Public Spaces Used Commercially (i.e. bars, restaurants, fast-foods, ice-cream vendors, etc.).

Which basically means "no picnics".

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    It looks like "no stopping" got translated to "no standing". This is probably a mix-up with the term "no standing" as used in traffic regulations — basically, waiting in a place.
    – mattdm
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 16:04
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    Well Google Translate gives "However, it is forbidden to stop to consume food or drinks except for the areas in concession to Public Exercises." It's not wholly obvious whether standing and eating a sandwich is really a problem if you're neither littering nor blocking anyone's way, but picnic seems like a fair summary.
    – Useless
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 17:56
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    The complete passage translates as "In any case it is forbidden to stop to consume food or drinks except for areas in concession to businesses, and for the specifically indicated dining areas, as well as to throw or abandon on public ground papers, jars, bottles and any kind of solid or liquid garbage and impede the circulation by stopping on bridges and calli". It reads a lot as a traffic regulation, and in fact there used to be a big problem in Venice of people impeding the circulation by having lunch in the wrong place: the calli are usually very very narrow,. Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 19:14
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    A trip to Venice is... *puts on sunglasses* no picnic.
    – SQB
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 13:13
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    @Kreiri If I had to guess, the verb sostare is used in the same meaning as in traffic regulations: it's stronger than just stop, when referred to a car it means that you shut off the engine. They clearly mean to stop for a longer period than a short sip. Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 17:24

As noted in other answers and comments, this is probably a mistranslation — it appears they mean "no loitering about, even if you're eating". My guess is that this is comes from the common "No Standing" traffic regulation, or otherwise from Merriam-Webster's sense #9a of "to stand":

3a: to remain stationary or inactive

... not from the "upright on two feet" sense of the word. Clearly from context, they don't want you sitting in these places either.

It's important to note that on that page, this restriction isn't for Venice in general. It's specific to the section which gives a short list of (presumably high-traffic) places where you're not supposed to sit, all of them in or nearby St. Mark's Square:

Except in specifically designated areas, it's forbidden to sit in St. Mark's Square and in Piazzetta dei Leoncini, beneath the arcades and on the steps of the Procuratie Nuove, the Napoleonic Wing, the Sansovino Library, beneath the arcades of the Ducal Palace, in the impressive entranceway to St. Mark's Square otherwise known as Piazzetta San Marco and its jetty.

Without knowledge of what all those places are (my first trip to Venice is hopefully next summer!) I can't quite interpret all of the commas and clauses in that list, but I think it breaks down to:

  • in St. Mark's Square
  • in Piazzetta dei Leoncini
  • beneath the arcades (arches) and on the steps of the Procuratie Nuove
  • the Napoleonic Wing (probably also meaning beneath the arches)
  • the Sansovino Library (I bet also meaning the arches; there's arches everywhere)
  • beneath the arcades of the Ducal Palace
  • in the impressive entranceway to St. Mark's Square otherwise known as Piazzetta San Marco
  • and its [St. Mark's Square's] jetty.

This basically seems to be a list of pretty much all the stuff in St. Mark's Square.

As we can see from this Google Maps photosphere, in practice, many people do stand in St. Mark's Square:

enter image description here

... and those guys in uniform don't look too concerned.

  • Agreed. My guess is that "No standing" should be "No standing around" ie loitering. idioms.thefreedictionary.com/stand+around
    – Dragonel
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 19:18
  • In general it is a good idea not to stop to eat anywhere in Venice, except in the parks. There's really not that much space :). Also, the list of places is basically "anywhere in Piazza San Marco" Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 19:19
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    "those guys in uniform don't look too concerned" No surprise here. I am a local and the only time I got bothered by someone because I was on a stair in San Marco was by a random person hired by the local municipality, wearing a weird yellow jacket, without any authority and not qualified as a public officer. As a matter of fact these people are (because they must be) very polite and just ask you to move. Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 19:55
  • There is only one person standing in that picture, everyone else is in transit. ;)
    – Andy G
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 12:28
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    @Andy — click through to the 360° view and look around. I picked this angle for the guards.
    – mattdm
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 16:48

The website you mentioned provides a reasonable outline of what is forbidden, however the official references are mentioned at the bottom:

(see articles 23 and 49 septies of Urban Police regulations)

The regulations are obviously in Italian, so I will translate them for you.

Article 23


Altri atti vietati

In tutto il territorio del Comune resta altresì vietato in luogo pubblico o aperto al pubblico:

  • eseguire la pulizia della persona, di cose e di animali;
  • gettare o lasciar cadere carta, liquidi, polveri o altri oggetti;
  • collocare addobbi, festoni, luminarie, senza apposito permesso;
  • lasciar vagare o abbandonare qualsiasi specie di animale;
  • eseguire qualsiasi gioco che possa costituire pericolo o molestia, fuori dai luoghi a ciò destinati;
  • effettuare pratiche sportive o ricreative pericolose o moleste;
  • depositare recipiente o cose sotto le pubbliche fontane;
  • entrare negli spazi erbosi, cogliere fiori, manomettere piante o comunque danneggiarle;
  • calpestare o sedersi sulle aiuole, negli spazi erbosi dei parchi e giardini pubblici, nonché sostare sugli spazi erbosi con qualunque tipo di veicolo;
  • arrampicarsi sugli alberi, sui pali, sulle inferriate, sugli edifici, sui monumenti, sui fanali della pubblica amministrazione;
  • sdraiarsi o salire sulle panchine;
  • nuotare o bagnarsi in tutti i rii, canali, nel Bacino San Marco e comunque in ogni specchio acqueo in prossimità di centri abitati;
  • spogliarsi e vestirsi sulla pubblica via e in luoghi di centri abitati;
  • spogliarsi e vestirsi sulla pubblica via e in luoghi esposti alla pubblica vista.

Nella Piazza San Marco, lungo i portici e le gradinate delle Procuratie Nuove e nella loro prosecuzione per l'Ala Napoleonica e la Libreria Sansoviniana, nella Piazzetta dei Leoncini, lungo il Porticato di Palazzo Ducale, nella Piazzetta San Marco e sul molo, è proibito sedersi al di fuori degli spazi specificatamente a tale scopo adibiti.

E’ proibito comunque sostare per consumare cibi o bevande ad esclusione delle aree in concessione ai Pubblici Esercizi, ovvero gettare o abbandonare sul suolo pubblico carte, barattoli, bottiglie e qualsiasi tipo di rifiuto solido o liquido.


 Other forbidden acts

On the whole territory of the Municipality of Venice in a public area, or an area that is open to the public, it is also forbidden:

  • to clean yourself, objects or animals
  • to throw paper, liquids, powder or other objects
  • to place decorations, swags, lights without a specific permit
  • to free or to abandon any kind of animal
  • to play any kind of game that can cause harm or annoyance, outside of the places specifically meant for that
  • to practice dangerous or annoying sports
  • to place containers or objects under public fountains
  • to enter the grassy areas, to pick up flowers, to fiddle with the plants or otherwise to damage them
  • to step or to sit on the flower beds, in the grassy areas of parks and public gardens, as well as to stop/stay on the grassy areas with any kind of vehicle
  • to climb the trees, poles, gates, buildings, monuments, lamps of the public administration
  • to lay or to mount on the benches
  • to swim or to get wet in all the rios, canals, the San Marco basin, and anyways in any kind of water located near to the city
  • to get undressed or to dress up in the streets and in city spaces
  • to get undressed or to dress up in the streets and in places that can be seen by the public

In San Marco Square, along the arcades and the stairs of Procuratie Nuove and on their extension towards Ala Napoleonica and Libreria Sansoviana, in Piazzetta dei Leoncini, along the arcades of Palazzo Ducale, in Piazzetta San Marco and on the wharf, it is forbidden to sit outside the spaces specifically meant for that.

It is in any case forbidden to stop/stay for eating or drinking, excluding in areas that have been rented to businesses [translator's note: this basically means bar, pubs and restaurants, their premises and their tables even if located on public soil], or otherwise to throw or to abandon paper, cans, bottles or any kind of solid or liquid trash on the public soil.

Article 49 septies


Intralcio alla viabilità

Fatte salve le norme in materia di circolazione stradale, sui percorsi pedonali di maggior flusso turistico del territorio del Comune di Venezia, così come identificati da apposita ordinanza sindacale, è vietato sostare senza motivazione, provocando intralcio alla circolazione, con comportamenti quali la mendicità su suolo pubblico o accessibile al pubblico.

Salva l’applicazione delle norme penali, ai contravventori al presente divieto, qualora l’intralcio sia finalizzato alla raccolta non autorizzata di danaro o altre utilità, si applica la sanzione amministrativa accessoria della confisca del danaro che costituisce prodotto della violazione, come disposto dall’art.20 della legge 24 novembre 1981, n.689, previo sequestro cautelare ai sensi dell’art.13 della citata legge n. 689/81.


Obstacle to traffic

Without prejudice to the rules on road traffic, it is forbidden to stop without motive on the pedestrian routes of high tourist flow in the territory of the Municipality of Venice (as identified by a specific order of the Mayor), causing obstruction to circulation, with behaviors such as begging on public or publicly accessible soil.

Without prejudice to the application of the criminal law, if the obstruction is aimed at the unauthorized collection of money or other benefits, the violators of this prohibition will receive the administrative sanction consisting in the confiscation of the money obtained through the violation, as provided by art. 20 of law n. 689 (November 24, 1981), in the form of precautionary seizure pursuant to art. 13 of the aforementioned law n. 689/81.


The English version of the website is poorly translated due to the fact that the Italian verb sostare is a combination of "to stand" and "to stay" with the connotation of occupying a space (it also means "to leave your car parked").

It does not mean that you cannot stand still and look at the buildings, or check your phone. It means you cannot occupy a space for eating (like a picnic) or by obstructing the pedestrian traffic.

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    +1 A lot of rules, but I guess with 20,000,000 tourists a year in a small area it's necessary. Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 22:59
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    No undressing, and no dressing up. So basically, wear clothes, but dress like a slob.
    – C8H10N4O2
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 2:45
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    My favourite is no "dangerous or annoying sports". For some people, hacky-sack and/or yoga probably count as annoying. Definitely one of the more subjective rules I've seen. Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 3:50
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    "if the obstruction is aimed at the unauthorized collection of money or other benefits" This is the first answer which includes "no begging". Begging used to be a huge problem in tourist areas in Italy, but they seem to be getting on top of it. Those people selling selfie sticks and so on are probably also included?
    – RedSonja
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 7:11
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    @C8H10N4O2 It's a mistranslation -- they mean "dress or undress", as in the act of putting on or off your clothes. Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 9:13

I don't speak Italian, but we have a similar rule here in a very popular mall that people cannot stand around talking / eating if that area is not part of a restaurant.

This rule is to prevent a concentration of people impeding traffic or other movement by simply standing around; especially in busy areas.

Strictly to prevent traffic jams as the place is very crowded with foot traffic - especially on the weekends; and tourists (this is very popular, very large mall) tend to somehow stop in the middle and take pictures, chat, and sometimes even picnic(!) on the sidewalk.

I even once saw a bunch of people lay out a rug and picnic basket in the escalators by the parking lot on a grassy knoll.

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    In other words, "no loitering". Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 17:08
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    Grassy knoll? Uh-oh. Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 18:55
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    Pretty sure "grassy knoll" has pretty much zero connotations outside of the United States. For those who may be wondering, it's a reference to the John F. Kennedy assassination (see link above).
    – delliottg
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 17:43
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit Agreed, I think that loitering is the word, rather than lollygagging or others cited above. Commented Dec 8, 2020 at 7:23

I wasn't sure about commenting this thread or answering when a Ctrl+F showed me no occurencies of the word bivacco yet in this page.

The word bivacco best translates loitering, rather than lollygagging or standing: the forbidden activities include sleeping in the streets, proper picnics, but most likeky also sitting alone on the stairway of any church to just eat a sandwich or smoke a cigarette. The matter is mainly about getting too comfy in public transit spaces (often narrow in Venice), and littering.

Standing anywhere, e.g. to wait for a friend with whom we have an appointment, is not forbidden, nor suspect, nor other.

Maybe related, maybe not, this also happen in Venice: that some areas of the city are literally too crowded, so the local police makes checkpoints to allow or not the transit to more visitors (in this case I think I remember that locals can walk thru anyway, but I'm not sure about this).

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