A horrible suspicion came over me as I strolled through the sculptural galleries next to the Sistine Chapel. Had these ancient corridors been earlier visited by conscientious members of our Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority (Tela)? Many of the marbled statues, some dating back to the birth of Christianity, were missing small but vital pieces of their anatomy. Had the Hong Kong philistines been at work? Apparently not. A security guard assured me the detachment of genitalia of carved angels, saints, and assorted other subjects of Renaissance and earlier artists were caused by natural reasons such as they had fallen off. The missing reproductive organs were caused by time and corruption of the stone, not by our intrepid protectors of public morals. But, boy, what a time Peter Cheung Po-tak, Tela's commissioner and his cohorts would have in Rome. If a mild, harmless classic like Manet's picnic in a park caused them problems, public displays in the holy city would send them into convulsions. In Florence they would go pallid with despair, so luxuriant are the public portrayals of private parts of the anatomy. Stroll around Tuscany and give thanks the Italians are not blessed with a Latin version of Tela or the Obscene Articles Tribunal. If so, some of the world's most prized and priceless relics would be desecrated. Florence, cradle of the rebirth of European civilisation and source of inspiration to a million aspiring artists, is more a living gallery than a city. For a Hong Kong resident, it is a place to cringe in embarrassment. Thank the Lord - portrayed here by Michaelangelo and scores of others - that we do not have our residency tattooed on our foreheads. The notion that you come from a place where 'responsible' civic fathers seriously move to ban nudity in art is too incredible for a suave Florentine to contemplate. In the gallery where David stands, marbled muscles bulging, slingshot draped over his shoulder, the most awesome of all Michaelangelo's masterpieces was last week the subject of quiet contemplation by schoolgirls accompanied by a nun. There was no sniggering at the statue's nudity, only admiration of the art. What would the wholesome Mr Cheung make of this? And what would our repressed artistic dictators think of religious portraits of the Madonna with babe at breast, subject of numerous paintings in famed Florentine galleries? Or of nude statues in the city's main square where Neptune rises naked from the waters of a fountain; and where nude mythical warriors embrace in deadly battle? I suspect, judging from priggish comments made in defence of their childish censorship of genuine art, that our artistic and moral watchdogs would faint with outraged modesty if they walked the streets of Florence, Siena or any other major city where the vast cultural legacy of the Renaissance is proudly displayed. As for violence, lead them not into the churches. Popes and pastors of the 15th century had vigorous notions of the fate awaiting sinners and these were translated robustly by artists of the period. The church at the hilltop town of San Gimignano has a particularly blood-curdling example of the genre with graphic portrayals of those guilty of transgressing the seven deadly sins. Impalement, decapitation, ravishment, torture, burning at the stake, being drowned and torn apart - all are shown with loving attention to detail. If such bloody paintings appeared in the slash-and-kick comic cartoons on Hong Kong street corners, copies would be instantly seized and vendors prosecuted.