IN PHOTOS: First tourists return to Venice as Italy welcomes back EU travellers

After an unusually quiet few months, Venice is back to receiving tourists as European countries drop their restrictions on visiting Italy.

IN PHOTOS: First tourists return to Venice as Italy welcomes back EU travellers
Gondoliers resume rides in Venice. Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP

It hasn't taken long for visitors to return to Venice after Italy reopened its borders on June 3rd and many of its neighbours followed suit on June 15th. 

At least 16 European countries now allow unrestricted travel to and from Italy, with others set to lift limitations in the coming weeks.

CHECKLIST: Which countries have dropped travel restrictions on Italy?

Some travellers are taking the chance to catch an unusually peaceful view of Venice, where around 85 percent of all tourists come from overseas.

Italy's coronavirus lockdown emptied the city of its tourist crowds – and while many residents enjoyed the quiet, for the estimated 65 percent of residents who work in tourism, the ban on visitors was tough economically.

But in recent days tourists have begun returning from elsewhere in Italy and overseas, albeit in smaller numbers.

Outdoor seating in St Mark's Square.

Gondoliers await customers.


Caffè Florian, one of Venice's most famous bars, has reopened after a three-month closure.

Waiters at Caffè Florian move seats outside.

A visitor takes a selfie inside the cafe.

The centre of Venice remains relatively uncrowded – for now.


A souvenir seller sets out his stall.

The city is likely to see bigger crowds throughout the summer.

A gondola on the relatively empty Grand Canal.

A gondolier wears face mask featuring St Mark's lion, the symbol of Venice.

All photos by Andrea Pattaro for AFP.

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US tourist fined €500 for driving on Florence’s Ponte Vecchio bridge

Italian police fined a Californian man after he drove a rented Fiat Panda across Florence’s iconic - and pedestrianised - Ponte Vecchio on Thursday.

US tourist fined €500 for driving on Florence’s Ponte Vecchio bridge

The 34-year-old man drove onto the bridge in the early afternoon of Thursday, January 26th, but was quickly stopped by police.

He reportedly told officers that he was looking for parking and wasn’t aware he was on the Ponte Vecchio, one of Florence’s most recognisable landmarks.

Completed in 1345, the bridge today is famously a narrow, cobbled walkway lined with small shops selling jewellery and souvenirs.

READ ALSO: US tourist charged with public indecency after posing naked at Amalfi Cathedral

The visitor, from California, had been planning on touring Florence by car (a rented Fiat Panda, to be exact). 

But whether he was trying to put one over local police or he just wasn’t aware of local traffic rules, his early-afternoon ride cost him dearly as he later received a total 500-euro fine for entering a pedestrian-only area and driving without an international driving permit. 

READ ALSO: ‘Americans can pay’: Italian minister says famous sites should hike entry fees

Florence recently announced a restoration project worth €2 million for the bridge – which was the only one in the city left standing after World War II.

Thursday’s incident was not the first time a tourist was caught driving across the Ponte Vecchio. 

In 2019, a 79-year-old German tourist drove onto the bridge in a rented Lamborghini sports car. After being stopped by local police, the man reportedly told officers he was “lost”.