The Week edition of 6th October carries two reports from Italy:
In a bid to preserve some decorum and sense of place the authorities in Rome have introduced fines of between €25 and €500 for people caught eating in the street in zones which have a “particular historical or architectural value” to “guarantee the protection of areas of merit in the historic centre”. Similar bans exist in Venice, Florence and Bologna.
Pietro Citati, writing in the Corriere della Sera (Milan) writes that the Sistine Chapel should be a place for quiet contemplation, but that the museum guards constantly have to yell for silence; visitors crowd through like “herds of drunks”. The crush is so bad it’s hard to move. Then there’s the thick fog that comes from the breath of so many tourists: it clogs the air and hangs around the ceiling. Heaven knows the damage it must do the paintwork. The last restoration of the frescoes was only completed in 1999, but at this rate another will soon be needed. It’s an “unimaginable disaster”. The only solution is for the Vatican authorities to slash visitor numbers to a quarter of the present total.