O Sole Minnie captures Romance of Venice

A besotted Mickey Mouse brought light relief to a crisis-themed Venice film festival Tuesday as a gondolier who is rowing up the Grand Canal in the floating city when he is smitten by young signorina Minnie.

O Sole Minnie captures Romance of Venice
Mickey Mouse works as a gondolier in the film O Sole Minnie. Photo: JD Hancock/Flickr

O Sole Minnie, a short by Emmy award-winning artist Paul Rudish, who helped develop and direct the much-loved animation series Dextor's Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls, captures the romantic spirit of the canal city.

Mickey leaps off his gondola into the restaurant where Minnie works as a waitress and puckers up for a kiss, but from there the hapless mouse is thwarted at every step, with pesky hippopotami, chickens and an operatic whale getting in his way.

The city's narrow waterways are thrown into confusion as he launches himself from the top of a building in his gondola, pings off a washing line and bounces from spire to spire to spin around the top of the majestic St. Mark's Basilica.

The technology may be cutting edge but the illustration harks back to the 1950s and 1960s and Mickey's wild ride through Venice – from cries of "ciao bella!" to romancing with a plate of pasta – will delight those who grew up with him.

Rudish's postcard hommage to the Italian city is just one of a series of short animations which will feature Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto going on adventures in Santa Monica, New York, Paris, Tokyo and Beijing.

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Italy to pay €57m compensation over Venice cruise ship ban

The Italian government announced on Friday it would pay 57.5 million euros in compensation to cruise companies affected by the decision to ban large ships from Venice's fragile lagoon.

A cruise ship in St Mark's Basin, Venice.
The decision to limit cruise ship access to the Venice lagoon has come at a cost. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The new rules, which took effect in August, followed years of warnings that the giant floating hotels risked causing irreparable damage to the lagoon city, a UNESCO world heritage site.

READ ALSO: Venice bans large cruise ships from centre after Unesco threat of ‘endangered’ status

Some 30 million euros has been allocated for 2021 for shipping companies who incurred costs in “rescheduling routes and refunding passengers who cancelled trips”, the infrastructure ministry said in a statement.

A further 27.5 million euros – five million this year and the rest in 2022 – was allocated for the terminal operator and related companies, it said.

The decision to ban large cruise ships from the centre of Venice in July came just days before a meeting of the UN’s cultural organisation Unesco, which had proposed adding Venice to a list of endangered heritage sites over inaction on cruise ships.

READ ALSO: Is Venice really banning cruise ships from its lagoon?

Under the government’s plan, cruise ships will not be banned from Venice altogether but the biggest vessels will no longer be able to pass through St Mark’s Basin, St Mark’s Canal or the Giudecca Canal. Instead, they’ll be diverted to the industrial port at Marghera.

But critics of the plan point out that Marghera – which is on the mainland, as opposed to the passenger terminal located in the islands – is still within the Venice lagoon.

Some aspects of the plan remain unclear, as infrastructure at Marghera is still being built. Meanwhile, smaller cruise liners are still allowed through St Mark’s and the Giudecca canals.

Cruise ships provide a huge economic boost to Venice, but activists and residents say the ships contribute to problems caused by ‘overtourism’ and cause large waves that undermine the city’s foundations and harm the fragile ecosystem of its lagoon.