Scorn Bubbles Over Venice-Coke Deal

Outrage greets plan to install vending machines in lagoon city
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2009 7:17 AM CST
Piazza San Marco, in Venice. The city has struck a deal with Coca-Cola to install vending machines, which has outraged many traditionalists.   (©TracyElaine)
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(Newser) – The mayor of Venice has cut a $2.1 million deal with Coca-Cola to install dozens of vending machines, leading to angry charges that the company was "buying" the historic lagoon city. The city council has spent years passing ordinances to keep tourists from disrupting Venice's heritage, but in recent years it has faced dramatic budget shortfalls, and the mayor says Venice cannot be safeguarded "by philanthropy alone."

The 60 vending machines around Venice will not display a Coke logo, and they will dispense snacks and sandwiches as well as familiar red cans. In exchange, the Atlanta corporation will be allowed to host two dinners a year in historical buildings, plus receive hospitality rights at the annual Historical Regatta. Venice vendors are anxious about the machines; one said, "I see this as having a major impact, and I don't see it in a very positive light."