Cruise ships and container vessels can now no longer sail past the iconic sights of Venice, in a move to preserve the famous lagoon city.
The latest decree, approved on Wednesday, detailed “urgent provisions” regarding cruise traffic around the historic centre.
Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said, “Anyone who has visited Venice in recent years has been shocked to see these ships, hundreds of metres long and as tall as apartment buildings, passing through such fragile places.”
Alongside the latest decree were consultations on the construction of a terminal outside Venice.
Italian ministers have agreed that large cruises can no longer access the Giudecca canal, which leads to the famous St. Mark’s Square. Consequently, the government has opened a “call for ideas” for a new cruise terminal location.
Una decisione giusta e attesa da anni: il Consiglio dei ministri approva un decreto legge che stabilisce che l’approdo definitivo delle Grandi Navi a #Venezia dovrà essere progettato e realizzato fuori dalla laguna, come chiesto dall’@UNESCO. pic.twitter.com/Gdv5PYZLKW
— Dario Franceschini (@dariofrance) March 31, 2021
“A correct decision, awaited for years: the [Italian] Council of Ministers approves a decree-law that establishes that the final landing places of the big ships in #Venice will have to be planned and realised outside the lagoon, as requested by UNESCO,” Franceschini tweeted.
Until the changes come into force, large vessels – those over 40,000 tons – will need to dock at Marghera port.
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Before the coronavirus pandemic brought the industry to a halt, cruise ship traffic boomed in Venice, bringing millions of extra visitors to the Unesco World Heritage city.
But to critics, giant tourist vessels were an eyesore and potential safety hazard, passing exceptionally close to Venice’s historic buildings, as well as a threat to the fragile ecosystem of its lagoon.
Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP
The liners have not sailed from Venice since cruises were first blocked last spring, even as they resumed briefly over the summer. Both of Italy’s biggest lines, Costa and MSC Cruises, redirected their ships to bigger ports near Trieste, Genova and Rome instead.
Cruise ships in Italy are currently halted as part of lockdown measures against the coronavirus pandemic, with Costa saying it will resume sailing in May when it hopes it will once more be possible for passengers to disembark for excursions in Italy.