besieged by tourists. In three days 245 thousand visitors

 besieged by tourists.  In three days 245 thousand visitors

VENICE – Mobile phone in hand that he gives indications, backpack on the back of a man, a small family of tourists advances in line in the calle di Malpaga. Once upon a time in this street behind the Toletta, parallel to the main road, they did not cross. It was one of many discounts used by Venetians to avoid crowds and move faster. Once, precisely, because in recent years tourists have also spread on these secondary roads. This distribution of flows that tourist policies have not been able to program, is made by Google Maps, which is increasingly precise in addressing tourists. Obviously without reasoned criteria, going to obstruct new itineraries, to the chagrin of local residents, without leading to the rediscovery of these artistic treasures that have remained hidden, in fact risking suppressing a certain more cultivated tourism. On the fourth day of the assault on Venice for the Ognissanti bridge, the city returns to face the contradictions of mass tourism.

How many tourists arrive in Venice

In fact, yesterday’s numbers were lower than previous days. After a sunny Sunday and Monday which saw 90,000 people flock to the historic city daily, yesterday’s fog must have discouraged some departures. Venice found itself full, but not very full. 65,000 attendances recorded by the Municipality’s control room as a daily peak: 20,000 Italians, 45,000 foreigners, including a quarter of Germans. No traffic jams in the city, nor the arrival peaks that we had seen in Murano and Burano. Not an exceptional day, in short, but busy and with the usual problems.

taxi traffic jam

Usual scenes between Piazzale Roma and the railway. A few queues at the counters, full vaporettos, a lot of work also for the taxis which now come more and more often to pick up customers in front of the station. Perhaps thanks to the increase in tourist tickets from the Actv which has made even the rates for motorboats more competitive. Also yesterday morning, they were queuing to pick up passengers and then head for Rio Nuovo or the Grand Canal. High speeds, high waves, even those everyday scenes. At the height of the Academy, however, something changes: everyone seems to be slowing down, the troubled waters are calming, but only because a local police star has appeared. Truce intended to be short-lived.

The calli like rivers of people

Rivers of people also in the street. The artery that continues from the station to Strada Nuova is the one that carries the greatest number of visitors in transit. Here, in Campo San Geremia, works Roberto Miracapillo, owner of the Vittoria restaurant, Aepe adviser. “I had to fire some clients the other night. Too many people, I couldn’t guarantee the service – he said – I’m not crazy about the access contribution, nor about the limited number, but it takes some form of quota. Above all, we must work to have a conscious tourism”. Not an easy goal. Problem felt. “Everyone wants to go only to Rialto or San Marco, there is no information about the rest – says Stefano Croce, president of tourist guides – Venice is the city of selfies with San Marco or Rialto behind it; or playful, that of bachelor parties; or the culture linked to the Biennale. His fame ends there. That’s a shame! Museums like Ca’ D’oro or Ca’ Mocenigo, which would line up in Paris, are ignored. It’s a lack of marketing. Thus, only mass tourism is developing, which also puts cultural tourism in difficulty, while creating problems for residents. I am a guide, but I am also a resident, and I can testify to the decline in the quality of life”.

Exasperated residents

The inhabitants of the abbey foundations also tell it. It was one of Cannaregio’s hidden gems, beyond the crowds passing through the Strada Nuova, beyond the boozy depths of Ormesini’s nightlife. A corner of “Venetians”, with good “neighbourhood relations” – they say – which has now been discovered by the so-called free guides who bring their groups here. “Now we have tourists parked on the bridge, they eat on the floor, they have no respect.” An exasperation which is another constant of the surviving Venetians in a city less and less adapted to the inhabitants. “Why not put beautiful benches in our fields. They would also be useful for the many elderly people who live segregated in their homes,” observes Sebastiano Girardi, a Venetian with a graphic studio in the Frari, who was having fun filming (and counting) the transit in Strada Nuova the other day. “He was sitting at the bar eating a sandwich. I counted about 25 passers-by every 10 seconds, or 150 per minute, 9,000 per hour. Many of them. And that’s a miscalculation.”