London: A number of new ‘public security’ laws in Italy have emerged that ban things like kissing while driving a car, feeding stray cats and building sandcastles.
More than 150 of such laws have been introduced since Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister, granted extra powers to local councils to help them crack down on crime and anti-social behaviour.
In the latest episode in the fight to maintain "public decorum", Vigevano, a town near Milan, slapped a young couple with a fine of 160 euros each, for daring to sit on the steps of a local monument.
"It was really hot, so we just sat down for a moment," the Telegraph quoted Giada Carnevale, 24, as saying.
"The only other alternative in the piazza is to go to a bar but there they charge you 5 euros just for a drink. We were just chatting - we weren’t eating or drinking or smoking," Carnevale said.
But the town’s mayor justified the fine, saying the council spent precious time and money each month cleaning up after idlers on the steps.
Italians, who are caught kissing in a moving car in the town of Eboli, south of Naples, face a 500-euro fine.
The coastal town of Eraclea, near Venice, prohibits the building of sandcastles on the beaches because they can "obstruct the passage" of people strolling along the strand.
And those caught having a smoke on the white beaches of Oristano, in Sardinia, can be hit with a 360-euro fine.
On the island of Capri, wearing noisy wooden clogs is banned.
In Bergamo, you can be fined 333 euros for feeding the pigeons, while Venice punishes the same offence with a 500-euro penalty. The town of Cesena on the Adriatic Coast extends the ban to feeding feral cats.
The Italian press has slammed what they claim is a return to the bureaucratic straightjacket of the Mussolini era.