Venice To Tourists: Love You, Love You Not

By Dave Heron

Get up...or pay up.

Craziness always finds a place to call home and this week it's invaded Venice, Italy.

Marco Polo was born there on September 15, 1254.

As one of the first Italian tour operators, Signore Polo envisioned a string of  resorts stretching from Italy to Japan. But with the world not quite ready for all-inclusives, he returned to Venice in 1295 after a 24-year long trek with nothing but a crate of coloured rocks which became the crown jewels of Italy.

Italy's fame over the next 723 years was confined mainly to leaning towers, bloody paintings and Sophia Loren.

Until last week.

It's no secret that Venice is an overtourism pioneer. Some 20 million tourists annually flock to the city which geologists claim is sinking faster than the Italian economy.

Rising seawater and 20 million people overindulging in pasta on an hourly basis will do that.

Adding to the woes are declining city revenues, which some jaded residents believe may be directly tied to previous politicians' 'creative' tax filings, and there's now an urgent call to fill up the coffers.

So it came to pass a week or so ago that Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro, sitting in a local trattoria with members of city council and multiple buckets of Chianti, (at least that’s how I picture it) came up with a nefarious plan to squeeze more Euros out of tourists.

"Visitors to our fine town are spending time sitting down and taking in the sights. We can no longer tolerate that kind of civil disobedience and I propose we implement at 500 Euro fine for such offensive activity."

Say what? But lest you think this proposal is purely the musings of an extended wine-tasting session -- this is not their first rodeo folks.

Earlier this year, in an effort to reduce crowding in popular tourist spots, city officials banned the hoi polloi visitors from certain walkways now designated for residents' use only.

Not only that, an app put approved by the powers-that-be advises tourists to avoid busy tourist spots. 

I can understand wanting to stem the flow.

But telling visitors who've perhaps endured many hours in the crushing coach cabin of a low-cost airline that they can't stretch out on bench to savour the sights they travelled to see is simply inhumane.

Never mind that 500 Euros x 20 million visitors is potentially more revenue than The Donald's trade war with China is capable of generating.

But an app steering tourists away from…tourist attractions?

Marco wouldn't stand for it. Then again -- if he had nowhere to sit…

Arrividerci until next time.

Dave Heron frequently sightsees from a bench in Okotoks Alberta, where he operates Pace Setter Travel & Tours.


Lesley - September 24, 2018 @ 23:31
It’s interesting - when I was in Venice, the least attractive places were the tourist spots ....Piazza San Marco, etc. The BEST spots were the tiny streets where nobody was, save a few residents. I loved the night non-tourist Venice.

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