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In Venice, Coke proposal makes waves

Associated Press / February 24, 2009
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ROME - The mayor of Venice says it's a good business deal. But bar owners and the media are criticizing his plan to install Coca-Cola vending machines in their world-famous city of gondolas, masked street performers, and flooded streets.

"Coca-Cola drinks up Venice," La Stampa newspaper said in its online edition yesterday. La Stampa said the five-year deal is worth $2.7 million.

Venice's City Hall confirmed the report. It said the deal has not been signed yet and that the vending machines would not be installed in or near city landmarks such as St. Mark's Square or the Rialto Bridge.

But in central Venice, where vending machines are uncommon, the deal envisages 38 of them selling Coke drinks at 14 stops used by water buses, City Hall said. The machines will not bear the Coca-Cola label, it said.

Venice Mayor Massimo Cacciari said the deal is part of a "financial strategy that today is indispensable for the safeguard of our artistic heritage" and that any such deal is overseen and approved by the city's artistic superintendent.

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