7 Places Where Dying Is Not Allowed


Death is usually considered the worst punishment possible for a crime. But what if the crime itself is death? In several cities around the world, municipal officials have forbidden residents to die, by threat of…well, basically nothing. No one has come up with a good punishment for the dead just yet. 

France and Italy are particularly prone to declaring death unlawful, mostly because it’s has proven to be a successful way to protest untenable restrictions against cemetery expansions. Because when there’s no room to bury people, the only acceptable choice is to outlaw the Grim Reaper. 

Here are seven towns that have urged their residents to become immortal—or at least not die within city limits: 


In August, the mayor of this town in southern Italy decreed that getting sick was not an option for residents. With only 537 residents, the majority of whom are over 65, dying might kill the town itself. So the ban, while unenforceable, is really meant to encourage people to stay healthy and take care of themselves. Anyone who doesn’t get a yearly checkup will be fined. 


In 2007, Cugnaux had two cemeteries with only 17 plots left between them. Unfortunately, because of a high water table, the only land available to expand the town’s burial ground was on the nearby military air base. When the defense ministry decided against letting the town bury its dead there, Philippe Guérin, the mayor of the southern French village, decreed dying illegal for anyone who didn’t already have a crypt prepared to be buried in. His protest worked, and the defense ministry caved. 


Inspired by Cugnaux’s example, in 2008, an overcrowded cemetery led the mayor of the 260-person hamlet in southwest France to forbid residents from passing on. “Offenders shall be severely punished,” the ordinance read. However, the 70-year-old mayor defied his own edict later that year. 


In 2005, faced with a shortage of space in the local cemetery, the mayor of this Brazilian town banned death. Cremation is frowned upon by the Catholic Church, and there were no more burial plots or crypts left. The farming community, which provides much of Sao Paulo’s fruits and veggies, could not expand its cemetery because of a 2003 law regulating areas with high water tables or special preservation designations. A new cemetery was opened in 2010, so presumably people are allowed to go on dying now. But for how long?  


In 1999, the mayor of this town in southern Spain also faced a grave shortage. In response, he forbid his citizens to die until municipal officials could find space for a new cemetery. The decree ordered folks “to take utmost care of their health so they do not die until town hall takes the necessary steps to acquire land suitable for our deceased to rest in glory,” according to an AP story at the time. 


In 2012, this 3700-person town outside Naples decided to outlaw death as a way to prod a neighboring town into letting it share cemetery space (the neighboring town had been charging non-residents more for a plot). Falciano del Massico did not have a cemetery of its own. Unfortunately, two senior citizens broke the law. As of 2014, the city was still fighting to get a new cemetery. 


This Arctic town, with a population of some 2000 people, is the world’s northernmost settlement, and is mostly a mining town. In 1950, realizing that bodies in the local cemetery were not decomposing, the town stopped allowing new burials. The bodies hidden under the permafrost are so intact that they have actually allowed scientists to study the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, because the virus was still preserved with its buried victims [PDF]. As Norway’s health benefits don’t extend that far into the Arctic, if you get sick, you have to go elsewhere

[h/t: The Guardian]

This Just In
Kentucky City Lets Residents Pay Parking Tickets With Canned Goods

Racking up parking fines? If you live in Lexington, Kentucky, you can pay off your tickets with canned food donations.

ABC 36 reports that, for the fourth year in a row, the city's “Food for Fines” program will help stock the shelves of God’s Pantry Food Bank—a member of Feeding America—throughout the holiday season. Beginning today, the city’s local parking authority is allowing residents with outstanding citations to donate preserved goods in lieu of cash through December 15.

Ten cans will get residents a $15 credit on any parking citation. And for drivers with a drawer-full of tickets, they can bring as many cans as they can carry to earn a $15 credit per 10-can donation. (Yes, even past due citations are eligible.)

"During the previous three years we have collected 24,500 cans of food, which is the equivalent of 12 tons or 16,000 meals,” Parking Authority executive director Gary Means said in a press release.

If you're planning on donating, make sure to check the date: Expired items won't be accepted.

[h/t ABC 36]  

Photograph by James Ewing. Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY
A New Exhibit Celebrates New York City's Public Art Legacy
Photograph by James Ewing. Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY
Photograph by James Ewing. Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY

Walking through New York City could be likened to strolling through a smog-filled gallery. For the past 50 years and more, artists have brightened its streets, subways, and buildings with vibrant mosaics, installations, sculptures, and murals. To celebrate their creativity—and the pioneering public art initiatives that made these works possible—the Museum of the City of New York has created a new exhibit, "Art in the Open: Fifty Years of Public Art."

"Art in the Open" features over 125 works by artists such as Kara Walker, Keith Haring, and Roy Lichtenstein, among others, all of which once graced the city's five boroughs. The exhibit explores the social and historical motivation behind outdoor art, and also connects it with overarching urban themes.

“The ubiquity of public art is a big part of what makes New York City so special,” said Museum of the City of New York director Whitney Donhauser in a statement. “From parks to the subways, from Staten Island to the Bronx, creativity is all around us. Experiencing the wide variety of art created for public spaces gathered together within the walls of a museum offers visitors a new lens for appreciating and understanding our city’s extraordinary 50-year commitment to public art.”

The exhibit runs from November 10, 2017 through May 13, 2018. Head to the Museum of the City of New York website for more details, or check out some photos below.

Jane Dickson's 1982 artwork "Untitled," part of "Messages to the Public"

Jane Dickson, Untitled, part of Messages to the Public, Times Square, 1982.

Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY

Ugo Rondinone's 2013 installation "Human Nature"

Ugo Rondinone, Human Nature, Rockefeller Center, 2013. Presented by Nespresso, Organized by Tishman Speyer and Public Art Fund.

Photograph by Bart Barlow. Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY

Subway artwork "Times Square Mural" designed by Roy Lichtenstein,
Times Square Mural (2002) © Roy Lichtenstein, NYCT Times Square-42nd Street Station. Commissioned by MTA Arts & Design.
Courtesy of Museum of the City of New York

Vik Muniz's 2017 subway artwork "Perfect Strangers"

Perfect Strangers (2017) © Vik Muniz, NYCT Second Avenue-72nd Street Station. Commissioned by MTA Arts & Design.

Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

Rob Pruitt's 2011 artwork "The Andy Monument"

Rob Pruitt, The Andy Monument, Union Square, 2011.

Photograph by James Ewing. Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY

Laurie Hawkinson, Erika Rothenberg, and John Malpede's 2004 artwork "Freedom of Expression National Monument"

Laurie Hawkinson, Erika Rothenberg, and John Malpede, Freedom of Expression National Monument, 2004, Foley Square.

Photo courtesy of Erika Rothenberg

Artist Kara Walker's 2014 work "A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby"

At the behest of Creative Time Kara E. Walker has confected: A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant. A project of Creative Time. Domino Sugar Refinery, Brooklyn, NY, May 10 to July 6, 2014. 

Jason Wyche, courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York. Artwork © 2014 Kara Walker.


More from mental floss studios