ROME (AFP) - Famed for the serene silence of its timeless nooks and crannies, Venice is about to get even quieter ... by banning noisy suitcases on wheels.
Residents of Italy's floating city have had it up to here with the round-the-clock rumble of luggage being dragged across cobblestoned alleyways and bridges by a large proportion of the 27 million visitors who flock there every year.
And their mounting irritation has prompted city authorities to draw up draft rules which will, from next year, see tourists become liable for fines of up to 500 euros (S$807.50) if they fail to switch to noise-free wheels which are either made of rubber or air-filled - or simply opt to carry their luggage to and from their hotels.
The ban also targets trolleys used by workers for the final leg of goods deliveries to businesses and residences within the city and local officials appear to be counting on bag manufacturers coming up with Venice-friendly models.
Italian media said residents of the car-free city would be exempted from the ban although there was no mention of the provision, which would be of questionable legality, in a statement issued by the local council on its plans.
"The rule is designed to respond to the numerous citizens who have in recent years complained to the local council about the serious irritation caused by stuff being moved about at times of the day and night when the law provides for protection against noise pollution," the statement said.
Officials also said that cushioned wheels were required to protect the city's ancient paving.
"We have also had numerous expressions of concern about the gradual deterioration and wear and tear of our paving and bridges which had survived intact for centuries," the council statement said.