What is going on Venice? A ban restricting large cruise ships from entering the city that was imposed only two months ago has been overturned. The Regional court of appeal decided that monstrous over 96,000 gross tons ships are OK to sail along the beautiful Guidecca Canal after all.
The itineraries for 2015 had been finalised after the ban, so “the skyscrapers of the sea”, as the large ships are often called, will not be sailing past Piazza San Marco in the following months. What is going to happen next year? Nobody knows! The only sound alternative solution that has been drawn up is the construction of a new canal Contorta Sant’Angelo, which would take 18 months to complete. The project’s environmental impact assessment is supposed to be announced in March. It has also been suggested to build a new terminal outside the Guidecca Canal and transport tourists on small boats to the city, let the navigation companies to reduce the size and number of the ships on a voluntary basis and a few others options.
When I asked an acquaintance, Venetian born and bred, what she thought about the court’s decision she replied that it was becoming ridiculous as the authorities changed their minds so often. “Typical Italian style”, she exclaimed.The regional tribunal gave in to the pressure from the Venice Passenger Terminal and many tourism groups who do not get tired of screaming that the city will die without the cruise ships. They insist the ships bring millions of euros to the local economy and because of the ban, they are losing at least 300,000 passengers.
While the authorities are trying to make up their mind, the fragile city and Lagoon have to deal with the impact of the 20 million tourists that descend on Venice every year. I was very happy to see last year that the locals had finally started to take matter in their hands when they launched a campaign “Unlock your love” against padlocks on the city’s bridges.
Needless to say, I am absolutely against the giant cruise ships in the Venetian Lagoon. However, there is no easy sustainable solution to the problem as mass tourism in Venice has been left unchecked for so long turning the city in a cash-making machine. There is only one Venice and it must not adapt to the demands of the visitors’ hordes. It should be the other way around; tourists must adjust, show care and respect for majestic Venice, before it is too late.
Photo by Martin Cooper/Flickr