Tourists longing for a cold drink while navigating Venice’s maze of narrow streets and bridges could soon have a Coke and a smile.

The famed northern Italy city is considering a deal with Coca-Cola to install about 60 vending machines throughout the town, according to numerous Italian media reports. Il Gazzettino reported Sunday that the deal might take place as early as Monday, though there are apparently voices calling for other alternatives.

According to a report filed by the ANSA news service, the deal would net Venice $2.1 million. In return, 15 machines would be placed at vaporetti (water bus) landing stations around the city, with the others to be placed in car parks and other spots away from the city center, according to reports.

Public opinion on the matter appears to be focusing on whether the city is getting enough money in the deal, not on the city "selling out" to a large corporation, the Il Gazzettino report said.

City leaders have complained for years that they don’t receive enough money from the federal government to maintain the city’s historic buildings and to keep the city clean under a constant barrage of tourists. In recent years, new city ordinances have targeted pigeons in St. Mark’s Square, picnickers, tourist dress codes, panhandlers and fast food eateries. A new bridge over the Grand Canal ran millions over budget. And work continues on a 4.3 billion-euro project establishing a series of gates to stop waters from swamping the city.

Vending machines are relatively rare in much of Europe, with exceptions being condom machines in bathrooms and sidewalk cigarette machines.

Readers who responded to the Il Gazzettino article had varied opinions. One thought the idea was a good one, but said an auction should be held so other companies could bid. Another was against the idea, but admitted that one benefit would be cheaper soft drinks in a city notorious for its high prices. And another suggested that the machines be placed as planned, but stocked with wine from the Veneto region instead.

Valentina Lehman provided translation for this report.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.

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