Tourists come back and Venice wonders: how many are too many?

Venice — In recent months, Piero Dori has spent a luxurious time in the calm waterways of Venice. Covid-19 restrictions keep tourists away It also reduced water traffic slightly and allowed traditional masquerade rowers to row across the lagoon at any time without worrying about being overwhelmed by the tracks of large and cruise ships.

His pastoral ended about two weeks ago.

“The waves were so high … I had to go home. It was only 10am,” said the gondola’s crutch-like raised oars used to carve crafts on the canals of Venice. 37-year-old Dri, who holds a workshop to make complex forcolas that are rock, said. “The enormous amount of motorboats of all kinds running through the lagoon has compromised the environment.”

The pandemic raised expectations for a reset of their famous tourist-rich city after the Venetian people escaped from the blockade of Covid.

Instead, a horde of day-trippers is back. The cruise ship also returned and passed St. Mark’s Square until a new dock far from the city was completed.

Some people have a shutdown Opportunity to tackle long-standing problems To create expensive homes and jobs that don’t depend on the huge amount of visitors that reached 30 million in 2019.

Piero Dori at the 2016 Venice Workshop.


Alvise Amellini / dpa / ZUMA PRESS

“Other places can deal with tourist avalanches,” said Claudio Scarpa, director of the Venice Hotel Management Association. Prior to the pandemic, only one-third of visitors actually booked hotels in the city.

Local governments and city officials are considering a variety of measures to reduce congestion and keep locals happy, such as a booking system that regulates the number of people entering the city. “It’s time to act,” said Luca Zaia, president of the Veneto region, where Venice is located. “Without people, Venice is at risk of becoming a theme park. They are their souls.”

Some people are worried that the window for making permanent changes is already closed.

“Here in Venice, normality lost its meaning long ago,” Dri said. He supports visitor restrictions, but is afraid that cities will find it difficult to push the rising tide back. “The first blockade last year made people think about the need to make a new and different start,” he said. “But this idea was soon lost.”

Venetian tourists in early June.


miguel medina / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

Like elsewhere in Italy, Venetian authorities have increased space for outdoor tables in restaurants and bars to accommodate more customers and reduce social distance. “After 6 pm, I couldn’t shop for groceries. On my way home, the streets were filled with people outside the bar,” said 48-year-old Francesco Penzo, who works for an insurance company. ..

“Every time I pass by, I have to kick or hit people who don’t seem to realize it’s the city they actually live in,” he joked.

In the short term, the resumed influx will provide a welcome lift thereafter Brutal years.. Venetian hotels lost 85% of their revenue last year, and despite the recent resurgence of the crowd, so far this year the situation is just as bad. Revenues by mid-June this year were down 95% compared to the same period in 2019. Currently, the occupancy rate of city hotels has recovered slightly, reaching about 60% on weekends.

Gondolas and tourists in early June.


Yarranardi / Reuters

Some people are happy with the old way back. Antonio Bereka, who works for a company that moves cruise ship supplies and luggage, said mass tourism is a valuable resource and the city needs to bring back tourists. “We have to hold our nose and be happy with what we have,” he said.

Iginio Mascali, who runs a spice shop near the historic Rialto Bridge, said local customers did not provide enough income for many businesses to survive. “Venice is like a panda that eats only bamboo,” he said. “If you take away the main dish, the tourists, you will die hungry.”

Still, many of the people trapped here during the pandemic had a glimpse of what the future would look like without so many tourists.

“The Venetian eyes had a different look. People were kinder and more relaxed. Surrounded by beauty and a relaxed atmosphere, this might be the perfect place to live.” Said Hamed Ahmadi, a 39-year-old restaurant owner who has lived in Venice since 2006.

Kelly Britton, a 35-year-old project manager for a New York City media company, moved to Venice last fall. “We got to know the real Venice and it’s very international, but we loved the atmosphere of the little town,” she said. “We may stay here forever.”

Some play a small role in maintaining a quiet Venice.

Donato Riccio, owner of the seafood restaurant Aea Canevassa, has signed out that he does not serve single parties, single parties, or people dressed in “sneaky” clothes.

“If you come here, you have to respect Venice,” he said.

Group selfie on the Grand Canal in Venice in early June.


Julia Marchi / Bloomberg News

Write to Giovanni Legorano

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Tourists come back and Venice wonders: how many are too many?

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