February 23, 2009

Venice officials deny Coke ‘sellout’

Officials in Venice, Italy, deny the city is selling out to the Coca-Cola Co. by approving a deal to allow Coke vending machines in the lagoon city.

The Italian daily La Stampa said Monday Venice was selling itself in a $2.1 million agreement that the newspaper said would result in vending machines in every corner of the city -- including St Mark's Square, where strict city regulations prohibit tourists from picnicking -- ANSA reported.

However, Maurizio Calligaro, chief of staff to the city council, said none of the 60 vending machines will be placed on public property -- and they won't even sport the Coke logo. Calligaro said the machines will mostly be placed inside council parking facilities and other locations away from Venice's world-famous tourist zones.

Venice Mayor Massimo Cacciari said the deal is much like previous commercial agreements.

This is a financial strategy that today is simply indispensable for safeguarding our monuments and artistic heritage and is in line with culture ministry guidelines, Cacciari said. It follows a strategy we've adopted with other equally prestigious collaborators -- Lancia for the restoration of the Ducal Palace, Swatch for the Biblioteca Marciana, Replay for Ca' Rezzonico and Bulgari for the Scala d'Oro.

Cacciari said Venice could not rely on philanthropy alone to take care of essential services.