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How bad mannered tourists are riling Venice

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Bad mannered tourists are riling Venice residents. Photo: Harsh Light
16:38 CEST+02:00
Venice is a victim of its own popularity and needs new strategies to cope with the ever-growing surge of tourists, especially those who misbehave, the city's tourism councillor, Paola Mar, told The Local.

More than 25 million tourists visit Venice every year and the most intense period for tourist traffic is between June and September.

“The city doesn't have to become a museum,” Mar told The Local. “We have to find a way for the residents to live with the tourists.”

But that is becoming increasingly difficult as leading Venetians have been outraged by a spate of recent controversial incidents.

A drunken Italian couple were found asleep in a stolen gondola by police on the Grand Canal early on Friday, while three young tourists rolled out their sleeping bags and spent the night on a public bridge in the Sant'Alvise quarter at the weekend.

Arrigo Cipriani, owner of the city's landmark Harry's Bar told the daily, La Nuova di Venezia, that tourists should pay to pass over the Freedom Bridge, which connects Venice to the mainland, to help resolve some of the problems in the lagoon city.

"The Venetians pass for free, the others should pay something," he said in an outspoken attack.

"Everyone feels they have a right to make a mess: tourists see that the city is disgusting and so they have no problem about doing their part."

Among some of the recent incidents, a Chinese visitor was filmed taking a leisurely bath in the Grand Canal at the weekend and another tourist had a skinny dip to escape the heat last week.

Mar said the city had 700 local police and people can be fined up to €250 for throwing rubbish in the canals or €50 for taking a dip.

“There are 4.5 million tourists who come here and stay in a hotel for two or three days and are virtuous,” Mar said.

“The problem is the tourists who come here only for the day. They take the same streets as all the others and go to St Mark's Square and the Rialto Bridge.

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“They think the Grand Canal is a beach and walk around with a bare torso. You would never see that in Barcelona, Paris or London. It is about bad manners.”

She said the city's challenge is to find new strategies to encourage people to come at other times of year.

“We also have to promote the Jewish ghetto and other areas of the city like Canareggio where tourists do not go,” Mar said,

“Everyone can express their opinion. We have to consider the options, analyze and come up with some strategies. I don't have a magic wand.” 

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