We, Venetians, have seen some really bad behaviour this summer: people sunbathing on the banks of the canals as if they were on the Venice Beach in California and not Venice the City of Art in Europe; people taking a dip in bathing suits in the canals of the city (may I remind here that there is NO sewage system in Venice, so they swam in some very-very dirty waters). There were foreign families sitting in the middle of Saint Mark’s Square and our little campi (Venice little squares) having full picnics with little camping stoves! There were disgusting human beings who decided that Venice is an open air toilet and you can practically relieve yourself in any corner of the city, even in rubbish bins in front of everyone (OK, we do not have a sewer system, but we do have toilets!!!). After all this we, Venetians, have decided to take things in our own hands and try to stop tourists treating our amazing city like trash. With no political agenda whatsoever, a small initiative to try to change things has started on Facebook two days ago. A group of Venetians and Venice lovers (but the group is growing daily as the action is taking momentum), lead by Alberto Toso Fei, a local charismatic writer, has decided to put a stop to one of the most annoying tourist trends of the last few years: leaving so called “love locks” on our beautiful bridges. We do not want the weight of rusty locks to ruin our bridges. We want to liberate Venice from tons of junk which – having depressingly lost their symbolic significance – are offensive to the history of Venice and the people who live here. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of Venetians, and lovers of the city will affix in “sensitive”, vulnerable places, a notice in multiple languages depicting an open, heart-shaped padlock with an explanation that attaching the locks is against love and leaves an undeserved legacy which weighs on the city.For some years, several groups of residents have been removing love padlocks from bridges, shutters, and any many other often strange places. We believe time has come to send a clear and unambiguous message to tourists who arrive in Venice with a somewhat distorted idea of love, whether for a partner or for the place that hosts them. Venice belongs to everyone. The world must take care of her, without the assumption that belonging to everyone means that nobody is responsible.
So how can you help Venetians? Join us in this effort to keep our city beautiful! If you are in Venice, do not buy any locks; do not attach them anywhere in the city; if you see someone who is putting up a love lock, kindly stop them and tell them it is illegal, unnecessary and also very impolite towards the local people. If you are not in Venice you can still help: re-tweet, share on Facebook or any other social network the information about this campaign. Please help us, #unlockyourlove for Venice! This is a guest post by Monica Cesarato, a Venetian who loves her city. She runs Italian language classes, food tours and cooking classes in Venice. Photos by: Ben Leto/Flickr, Monica Cesarato.