Venice's famous Bridge of Sighs is hidden by corporate advertising

Venice's famous Bridge of Sighs is hidden by corporate advertising
Venice's famous Bridge of Sighs is hidden by corporate advertising

Most of us had the sinking suspicion that something like this was bound to happen sooner or later, kind of like oiling our seas into extinction: One of Europe's great landmarks, Venice's Bridge of Sighs, has been nearly completely covered with advertising so that tourists who take a snapshot of it wind up bringing a corporate message home with them, too.

The bridge, connected to the Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace) near Piazza San Marco, is one of Italy's icons. But last summer, it and the surrounding buildings were clad in massive scaffolding for renovations, and the city of Venice seized the opportunity to make money fast by milking the icon for advertising revenue. Observers howled in opposition.

But their protests didn't change things. Instead of lasting for a single miserable, photo-spoiling summer, the arrangement is slated to last for another four years, until 2014. Last year, the eyeball assault came from Sisley, a Benetton brand. This year, Mont Blanc took over the violation of the monument. You can see from my photo how the bridge, built in 1602, is now almost impossible to pick out of the ad clutter.