Drunk couple nicked for gondola joyride

Police were shocked to find a young Italian couple asleep in a stolen gondola on the Grand Canal at 3am on Friday morning.

Drunk couple nicked for gondola joyride
A young couple takes a legal gondola trip. Photo: Joakim Berndes/Flickr

At first, the police officers who were on a routine patrol presumed that the gondola was empty and had merely come adrift from its mooring, Ansa reported.

But as they approached the boat they realized there was an inebriated young Italian couple asleep inside…

Venice is of course one of the world's most romantic cities and after one too many glasses of prosecco, anything seems possible.

After imbibing too much, the young Italian couple decided it would be a good idea to go for a gondola ride on the Venetian lagoon. The only problem was they didn't have a gondola.

The youngsters opted to steal one of the typical Venetian boats – choosing one that was owned by the city council and used to transport people from one shore of the Grand Canal to the other.

Once on board the couple set off for a tour of the Venetian lagoon, which they achieved with some difficulty.

Then they sailed the boat up the Grand Canal. 

Once they reached a dark spot, the considerable effort of joyriding in a gondola must have caught up with them, and the couple fell asleep in the boat.

Being young, drunk and in love might not be a crime: but theft and reckless endangerment are – and that's exactly what the young duo were charged with after being taken to the police station. 

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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.