The men who clean St. Mark’s Square


One of the three men who sweep the Piazza at about 6:30am when the Piazza is perhaps at it’s most serene. 

While in Venice last week I decided to get up early one morning and go watch the people who clean St. Mark’s Square. For many, Piazza San Marco is the most beautiful city square in the world. I wanted to know who keeps it clean.

I was surprised to learn that is just 4 men who clean the square every morning. And mostly they do it by hand. BY HAND! The crew leader explained to me that even though they had just gotten a small machine that picks up trash like a mini street sweeper, he still prefers to do it all by hand. He and two other men sweep the Piazza. Then the man who runs the new machine comes and sweeps up their piles.

They begin cleaning the Piazza at 6am. By 7:30am they are done and by 8:15am they meet a boat where they deliver their 1st loads of trash. After working in the Piazza, they move on to pick up trash and recycling businesses and residents have left for them. They keep working until about 12:30pm, when then finish and go home.


Sweeping with new machine on the right. 


The boat that carries the trash to the mainland.


Another crew setting up the walk ways in case of high water- aqua alta. 

All of the men I spoke to had been doing this work for more than 20 years. They are proud of their work, knowing they are some of the few trash collectors left who do their work mostly all by hand.

Of course my head was spinning about making a dance with them. We will see, but for now I just enjoyed getting to learn a little of the story of the people who keep one of my most favorite places in the world so beautiful.

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