Venice institutes "pee-pee tax"

If you want to pee in a public facility, you're going to have to pay.

Published January 27, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

Traveling to Italy this year? Great! Just hold your bladder when visiting Venice, or it'll cost you. The city has recently adopted a new law that tacks a steep surcharge on the price of using public restrooms.

Critics have dubbed it the "pee-pee tax," and if you're not one of the 50,000 residents who have access to a free bathroom at home, you're going to pay it. Nonresidents will be charged 1,000 lire (52 cents) for each visit. Of course, if you're a frequent visitor, you may want to get your hands on a three-year, 6,000-lire pass, which allows you to use the facilities for half the amount: 500 lire per visit.

A Venice city council spokeswoman defended the controversial tax in a Reuters report, stating, "We are a tiny population compared to the number of visitors we get -- we have to offer public services for 10 million people. It's impossible for us Venetians to pay those costs with our taxes."

The price may be steep, but at least the watery city's loos are clean. AMAV, the Venetian Environmental Multiservices Corporation, is in charge of the restrooms, and they are serious about what they call "urban hygiene." They even have their own Web site, on which they state: "Work includes management, cleaning, maintenance, both ordinary and extraordinary, of the 21 sites now in operation, two of which include showers." Their Web pages include pictures of some of the restrooms -- and they do appear to be deluxe.

Just imagine what they'll look like once the pee-pee tax goes into effect!

By J.A. Getzlaff

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