• Controversy in Italy over Venice billboards

    2010-10-07

    Honeymooners or empty nesters heading to Venice will no doubt have a romantic time in one of the most beautiful cities on Earth. Yet some outspoken critics are chastising the current mayor of the city, Giorgio Orsoni, for allowing large advertisements to partially obscure some of the city's more famous landmarks.

    Orsoni responded yesterday in an interview with the AFP, quoting a Venetian saying that roughly translates to "before you speak, be quiet." The mayor says that the advertisements are necessary to fund the expensive renovations and maintenance for the buildings that travelers love.

    Head curators of London's British Museum, New York's Museum of Modern Art and the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg teamed up with architecture legend Sir Norman Foster for a joint letter that appeared in the city's Art Newspaper. They argued that visitors to the city would come away with a tarnished image of Venice.

    "They come to this iconic city with an image of it in their mind's eye and instead they see its famous views grotesquely defaced," read the letter.

    This year, two of the more notable landmarks to have advertising are the Bridge of Sighs and the Doge's palace in St. Marks Square. Defenders of Orsoni said that the buildings were in such disrepair that falling pieces of plaster posed a risk to tourists.


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