Want to stalk George Clooney? That'll be a €19 fine

Mayor tires of fans loitering outside actor's Italian home
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The Independent Online

In Los Angeles, the authorities happily sanction costly minibus tours of the homes of the rich and famous. But around lake Como, northern Italy, home from home for the Hollywood heart-throb George Clooney, things are a little different.

The Mayor has had enough, and rather than milking the A-lister's fans for every cent his town can get, he has decided to get tough. From now on, gawpers will face a €19 (£16) fine.

Giorgio Pozzi, first citizen of the lakeside community of Laglio, introduced the regulation on Tuesday, forbidding anyone to gather in a group of more than three people in sight of the actor's opulent Villa Oleandra.

The presence of paparazzi and autograph-hunters in Laglio has become the norm since the actor bought the property in 2001. In June, Clooney was even stopped by police on motorbikes – only to be asked for his autograph.

But in the past two weeks, interest in Clooney has surged thanks to his latest romance, with the former Italian TV starlet Elisabetta Canalis. The pair have been seen flitting around Como on the actor's Harley Davidson, in matching shades – and the fans have arrived to catch a glimpse of them at the 18th-century villa, the former residence of the Heinz family.

"We've arrived at the point when hordes of people are yelling his name from the street at the top of their voices," Mr Pozzi said. "Some of the cheekier ones are even going up and ringing the bell." The initial fines would be €19 and would rise for repeat offenders. Local residents are exempt.

The new regulation in Laglio is the latest in the long line of odd local prohibitions that have a habit of appearing in Italy during the summer. Past regulations have included bans on sand castles, clogs and lawnmowers.

Pozzi said the fines were being introduced at the request of other residents, not the actor. "Notification of what was happening came from the public not Clooney," he said. The actor is treated like royalty in celebrity-obsessed Italy, a phenomenon helped by his gracious manner and ready supply of compliments for all things Italian. He is a regular fixture at cultural events and even appeared at the G8 summit in Abruzzo.

However, the Milan daily paper Corriere della Sera suggested that Mr Pozzi's latest attempts to accommodate the actor had gone a little too far. It said the fines were "a pointless gesture", noting that there was little possibility that even the loudest shouts from fans would be heard right across the extensive grounds of his villa.