With the aid of stiff fines, the Italian city of Pisa has launched a campaign against trashy tourist souvenirs deemed harmful to the image of its monuments, notably its Leaning Tower.
Topping the list of offensive memorabilia: boxer shorts with a strategically placed replica of the Tuscan city's famous tower, which on Monday landed five salesmen a fine of 500 euros ($668) each, municipal spokesman Francesco Paletti said yesterday.
The offence? Selling "merchandise harmful to propriety."
Other targeted souvenirs include an apron sporting the image of Michelangelo's famous David nude sculpture, and underwear decorated with suggestive pictures from the ancient city of Pompeii.
"These horrors must be eliminated from the shelves of souvenir merchants," Pisa mayor Marco Filippeschi was quoted as saying in the press, while the local church judged the items "vulgar and offensive to the faithful".
The objects concerned "lack any respect," the mayor said. "There are municipal rules which clearly specify what merchandise can be sold and what not: those that are disrespectful will be sanctioned."
The cities of Pisa, Florence, Siena and two villages popular with tourists on Tuesday asked Tuscan regional authorities to grant them more powers for the protection of the urban environment.
"There is an ethic of respect for our heritage; from time to time it requires courage to remember this," said art critic Philippe Daverio, who advocates a "no to the sale of these things on the Square of Miracles", location of both an historic cathedral and the Tower of Pisa.