Locals Of This Iconic Italian City Despise It When Tourists Break An Unspoken Walking Rule

Venice, Italy, feels like a dreamscape when you visit. Between the intriguing history of the city, the canals with gondolas ferrying people around, the lovely bridges, and the overall beauty of the place, Venice can almost seem like it's only there for sightseeing and relaxation. However, as in many other busy cities like New York, London, or Paris, you have to remember that people live, work, and raise their families here. Venice passed some tourism laws in May 2019 to help keep the city in good shape for locals and tourists alike. It's a fine-worthy offense, for example, to feed pigeons or stand still on bridges. And yet, there is one rule that isn't in the books, and it's one that you should really follow if you don't want to annoy the residents of the city. That rule is walking on the right side of the street, not the left. 

There are good reasons for this unspoken rule, as there are for the ones codified into law. Let's talk about why you should always stay to the right while walking in Venice, as well as a few other rules that accompany it, so you won't inadvertently break the law. 

Walk like a Venetian

In 2019, there were more than 60,000 visitors to Venice per day, which was more than the population of 55,000 at the time. That can make things difficult if even a portion of these tourists misbehave. That's why an unwritten rule in Venice is that you must stay to the right side of the street while walking — just like vehicles on the roads. Think about driving and pretend you're a car that has to stay in the right lane, or you'll cause an accident. Knowing this rule helps keep tourists from bunching together and blocking everyone else. 

It's good to remember that many streets in Venice are narrow, and with hordes of people aimlessly wandering, stopping to take pictures, and crossing small bridges, it can make things difficult for people on a schedule. Again, people live and work here, and they have to get where they're going, the same way you do in your daily life. The small adjustment to the right side of the sidewalk can make their days so much easier and keep the flow of foot traffic moving, so you too can see a lot more during your time there. That's especially true if you only have a single day, because the popular Italian city charges people over age 14 a day-tripping fee to visit

Other unusual rules in Venice

Learning about the customs and laws of a place before you visit is just being a good tourist. Sometimes people forget that even though they're on vacation, not everyone is. While walking on the right is an unwritten rule, several others are official. For instance, it's against the law to stop on a bridge, so take your pictures elsewhere.

Though it was legal long ago, you can't swim in the Venice canals. It's also gross, because the water isn't safe. This is not a remote and tranquil beach in Costa Rica. Plus, you could easily be hit by a gondola, boat, or vaporetti (water buses). Along those lines, you are prohibited from wearing a bikini or being bare-chested in the street. You are also not allowed to ride, or even push, a bicycle unless you're a resident or a child under 8 years old. 

Another rule that is really important to remember is that it's illegal to feed the pigeons or other wildlife, no matter what great pictures your parents had doing just that in St. Mark's Square years ago. The birds' excrement is acidic and can damage historic buildings and statues, and you can be fined for breaking the law. It may seem harsh, but again, 60,000 people a day are a lot of tourists. The rules, both written and unwritten, can help everyone have a wonderful time and preserve this great Italian city for the history buffs of the future.