There was a time when Venice was a pretty bawdy place. English writer Thomas Coryat claimed that there were 20,000 prostitutes there in 1608, outnumbering nuns and patrician women better than 10 to 1. Courtesans once held a place in Venetian society that could occasionally border on the exhalted, as the careers of brilliant women like the famed Veronica Franco illustrate. Veronica was a poetess and sought-after intellectual, better known for her turn of the phrase then her turn of the trick.
But that was then. The pay-for-play market fully dried up long, long ago. Oh sure, the Gazzettino still reports on police sweeps that net johns and what Italians colorfully call lucciole (which translates to "fireflies"). But that's all on the terra firma, in places like Verona and Mestre. Venice? Tamer than a neutered poodle.
I have never seen a single latter-day report of prostitution in the Serenessima. Well, not until today, that is.
Believe it or not, according to today's Gazzettino, a 35-year-old South American woman was busted yesterday for soliciting 5 Euro "donations" from passers-by in return for a bit o' fun. In Piazza San Marco and the Papadopoli Gardens no less. Not what I'd call a well thought out business plan, I think you'll agree.
In any event, the shop is officially closed. She's now in the custody of social services.