Thousands of women lure customers by standing on the side of major roads leading in and out of Italy's main cities, where brothels and red light districts are banned.
However, they face a crackdown from the centre-right government of Silvio Berlusconi, as well as individual city councils such as Rome, Milan and Florence.
The mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, unveiled a decree this week, which will ban the capital's thousands of street prostitutes from wearing 'unseemly and indecent clothing'.
Alemanno said that the sight of barely clothed young women distracted male motorists and caused accidents.
Even the way in which sex workers stand is under scrutiny - the decree bans the women from 'adopting poses or behaviour or wearing clothing that unequivocally manifest the intention to solicit or practise the activity of prostitution'.
Now, sex worker welfare groups have called the decree ridiculous and have vowed to challenge it in any way they can.
"We'll dress as nuns so that the police will arrest scantily dressed girls outside discos or other women with their cleavage on show," the Telegraph quoted Pia Covre, of the Committee for the Rights of Prostitutes, as telling the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
"The idea of wearing gowns or habits down to the feet is to confront the decrees which limit even the freedom of what you can wear,.
"In Florence, for example, the mayor has forbidden girls from walking up and down and we are thinking of going around on bicycles instead," she added.