It’s August and the Tourist are Unruly

chinese_picnicEvery year as August rolls around, Venice is inundated with tourist of every age, gender and ethnic background, bringing with them their own mores, social behaviors or often lack thereof. It’s difficult to cross bridges or exit your house as the steps are laden with tourists like these Chinese (Photo: Il Gazzettino) having their snacks sitting as you see here, flat on the sidewalk.  And last week, a Filipino family pulled their suitcase right into the Piazzetta dei Leoncini, opened it up and proceeded to produce everything needed for a family picnic, too bad there were no tables. Or the Indian family who decided to cook their lunch on a camp stove right in San Marco (never mind this city fears fire like no other!).

By mid August the locals are fed up, even though so much of their economy depends on tourism. And from this summer, they have every right. eating_sleeping

The lines for the vaporetto, indeed for even purchasing a ticket to the vaporetto are long and patience is running thin. Trying to board the vaporetto is even more difficult as the tourist clog the entrances and exits like lemmings on their way to extinction, and the locals, cannot board. The elderly Venetians, on their way to the doctor, grocery shopping, or poste are smothered in the crowds. Once on board, tourists and locals alike do not have an improvement in behavior and tempers flair.

We witnessed an elderly Venetian give a swat to a young, obviously drunk tourist who ran over the ladies foot with her suitcase the size of a small car.

The headlines in Il Gazzettino read: “Venice waves the White Flag” in surrender to an estimated 25 million tourist this year. Solutions for this overcrowding, lack of facilities and lack of respect for this beautiful old lady of a city vary from limiting the number of tourist allowed in any one day to requiring a admittance card and reservations. Their was even a discussion last year of creating a pretend Venice on the mainland just for tourist – much like a Disneyworld.

The average tourist in Venice spends less than 4 hours there, they are interested in their “bucket-list” for Venice, quick photos of the following: Rialto Bridge, San Marco Square, maybe San Marco the cathedral, and maybe Murano. The eat a sandwich or ice cream, maybe a cappuccino and they are back on the bus or boat, having “seen” Venice. And bluntly put, these tourist do not compensate for the trouble, trash, and bad behavior they bring with them.

Fake Purses Can Get you Fined

Fake Purses Can Get you Fined

And it’s not only the tourists, the influx of illegal street vendors has engulfed every bridge, square, and corner. They have become aggressive, unrelenting in their pursuit, though I do marvel at how many languages they can speak and how fast they can pack up and leave when the police head their way. The ones that are really annoying are those with those blasted toys they launch which glow. There are so many of them San Marco doesn’t need  lamp poles and you can’t make a picture without one zooming through.girls_sunbath

The car parks at Tronchetto and Piazzale Roma have been completely full well before noon, owing in part to the weather  this year as the beaches are not as appealing in the rain, so on a rainy day – visit Venice? And, if the sun comes out, you can do what these young tourist did,(Photo: Il Gazzettino) just lay on the stones in front of San Marco alongside the Gondoliere stand in swim suits and sunbath, where I do not think even a Doge has had the nerve to worship the sun. I cannot imagine the confidence this must take, oblivious of the thousands of people strolling by. men_urinating_venice

This year, it seems that the tourist have sunk to hither before unheard of depths. This picture ran in both Il Gazzettino and Nuova Venezia deploring the two young men who simply urinated in the trash cans in San Marco Square in plain view and daylight. (Photo: Il Gazzettino)  In previous days, this could have resulted in a trip over the Bridge of Sighs and a long visit to the prison in the Doges palace.

Some of our friends woke up one morning to find a pup tent alongside their house. And while I would love to spend the night at the Doges Palace, sleeping on the benches outside is not my idea of a vacation. A novel way to beat the high cost of hotels in Venice! But Really!

Some of the more vulgar displays of humanity I will skip here, but suffice to say that Venice has seen it all this summer, and I do mean all. From using the city as a toilet, bedroom, yes it is a romantic city. But some things are better left to your hotel room (that is if you have one??). nudi_

Earlier in in August two men took a splash in the canal near the Billa grocery store on Strada Nuova sans anything – that’s right completely nude, these two grown men bathed in the lagoon. (Photo: Il Gazzettino) And yes, that is a restaurant behind them. There were definitely items not on the menu that day They were led away by the police. But perhaps there’s no written law about swimming nude in Venice.

After all, we never thought it was needed. But this year, it is apparent that we need many new laws.

  • No peeing in trashcans
  • No swimming nude in Venice, no sunbathing in  San Marco (the Lido is where you want to be!)
  • No pup tents, no sleeping bag camping in Venice, no sleeping anywhere in San Marco
  • No cars in Venice, no motorcycles in Venice, leave the bicycle at the train station
  • No sitting on people’s front steps, front windows of store, bridges
  • No picnics (a loose use of the word), in San Marco Square, church steps, bridge steps, no camp stoves, camp fires
  • No blocking the vaporetto entrance and exits, both on the boat and onshore
  • No buying from the illegal street vendors – it is all fake and it’s illegal
  • No sitting in the handicapped seats on the vaporetto

Remember your manners….. What would your mother think?

  8 comments for “It’s August and the Tourist are Unruly

  1. Judy C.
    August 24, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    This is indeed appalling! I had heard that some groups (as mentioned above) were particularly bad, but this is ridiculous. Can’t they at least show some respect for the marvel of Venice?! Not to mention the locals who live, eat, sleep, PAY TAXES, etc. Good grief!!! It’s no wonder that most tourists get a bad rap caused by a few. And I thought the “ugly Americans” were the worst! Ha! Not any longer. Thanks for the article, I think. LOL

  2. dominique
    August 24, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    “The average tourist in Venice spends less than 4 hours there” — the subsequent problems this kind of ‘touristing’ creates would be diminished substantially if Venice would/could ban those monster cruise ships from its waters. Doing so, though, would mean a substantial loss in revenue. So, the city needs to take a hard look at what’s important to it, what’s truly necessary, and what it (the city and its populace) will put up with and how far.

    As for the other behavioral complaints and horrors, I concur. (Perhaps everyone disembarking from train/boat/bus could/should be given an official document spelling about what is and is not allowed within city environs and the consequences?) Except for this:

    As a first time visitor to Venice (for ten days, not four hours) in early July, I was astounded by the major lack of public/free places to simply sit down (never mind tables). The stone benches outside the Doges Palace were filled by 10am. (There was plentiful seating inside the Palace, surrounding the courtyard, but of course that required an entry fee.) Venice is a walking city, and wonderfully so, but legs get tired, the sun bears down. From narrow calles I would enter campos and there would be a fountain in the center of the naked (sorry!) plaza, so I admit to perching gingerly on someone’s front stoop, in slight shade, to rest and drink from my bottle of water. As another example, there are a couple of rows of ‘park benches’ near the Zan Zaccaria vaporetto stop — benches that were always fully occupied. My one suggestion, therefore, for your beautiful city is to consider the kindness to strangers that a park bench can give. Some of us just need to rest for a little bit. I had never been to Italy before — and am so glad Venice was my introduction — so this dearth of public seating may not be just a Venice matter, but…. (I can practically guarantee you that if there were lightly scattered bench seating available outside assorted shops that sales in all the shops along that street would increase sales.) I hope to be able to return to Venice some day, park benches or no, because when I first walked out of the train station and saw the Grand Canal I cried, and no other place in the world has given me that feeling. Mille grazie.

  3. Barbara
    August 24, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    It is hard to believe that people can be both so stupid and so insensitive to this beautiful historic city. Besides limiting the number of daytrippers, maybe Venice should charge an entrance fee to those who are not staying overnight in a hotel. Is it no wonder that there are so few remaining residents, when they must contend daily with such rudeness and incivility.

  4. Bil
    August 24, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    It is sad to read all of this, but unfortunately Venice is not alone. People in general have been lowering the standard for human consideration of others. Stupid people are everywhere and from every country. I believe many are in a race to see which culture gang should receive some type of DIA (deliberate inconsideration award).

    It will only get worse for Venice as I just read it was listed as one of the top tourist attractions to disappear due to global warming and rising sea levels. If the tourism doesn’t draw much to the local economy, then perhaps the best thing to do is close the city’s gates. Let those who live there enjoy the last years of their city’s existence in peace.

  5. Candice
    August 24, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    I am so sad to read about this terrible treatment of your beautiful city. Although i am an American tourist, before I visited Italy, I took the time to learn some Italian, to learn your history, and read about your customs.

    I spent 10 nights in Venice, and 5 in Verona on my last trip, and am a widow traveling alone. It was March, and so Venice was not overrun with cruise ships and tourists. I had conversations with kind people every day, and enjoyed the city of the water.

    It was my third trip to Italy. I do not speak loudly. I dress conservatively. I ask permission and don’t handle merchandise. I know how to speak with respect.

    I wish all tourists would stop hurrying through one of the most beautiful, culturally rich, and historically important countries in the world.

    Venice should limit the number and size of cruise ships, for starters.

    Thank you for sharing the article.

    • August 24, 2014 at 8:01 pm

      Thanks to all of you. It is naturally only a few people who are causing the distress and giving all tourist a bad name. Don’t worry, it is citizens of all countries. Just last week in Spain, 2 (handsome) young Italian guys ran around “tutti nudi” for a couple hours (as reported in the Guardian).

      There is a more significant danger to the great influx of tourists. UNESCO has threatened to withdraw Venice from the World Heritage List (which would mean a significant loss of funds to help maintain the buildings, artwork, etc.). UNESCO sees Venice’s political leaders as only interested in more tourist dollars and not in the preservation of the city. Perhaps this will get Venice and Rome’s attention.

      Needless to say it is a difficult balance between providing jobs for those who live there and preservation of the city. As I work with the people there I understand both positions. Venice does not want to be a museum, it wants to be a vital, alive city, yet where else can you find the history, artwork, architecture equaling that of Venice? Would the behavior of my story be allowed in the Louvre? in the palace of Versailles, in the Vatican? in your local school? in your home?

  6. Virginia
    August 24, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    I can tell you that things are not better in Paris….I’ve seen and heard things, similar to what has happened in Venice. Unfortunately, tourism is an ugly, two-headed snake, with some tourists acting like any country or place outside of their home is an amusement park and they can do whatever they like. And in order to get the profit, you have to “deal” with it. One of the latest issues in Paris, is with people throwing the keys of locks that they put on bridges into the Seine because it is romantic. If throwing trash into the river is romantic, well then I suppose anything goes then. They are trying to get people to stop because of not only the environmental factor, but because also of all the weight the locks are putting on the bridges.
    In any case, I can tell you that it is a sad issue every capital must face. In the future, Venice, probably like Paris, many apartments and homes will end empty most of the year because they end up being bought by rich foreigners who do not live there all year, so the tourists are not a problem for them. As this has happened, local business have slowly faded, giving way to souvenir shops and restaurants, etc. The thing though is that Venice is smaller than Paris so the change may be even more brutal.
    I really do hope that Venice finds a way to solve these issues because sadly it will probably not get better, but I can always hope.

  7. Marilyn P
    August 25, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I find it disgusting how people act these days. It’s a , what does it matter kind of society these days. People come from other countries and they do what they do at home. People think there is no hope anymore because there are no jobs
    and no future to look forward to. Lack of caring. I remember some years ago, that if you visited China and left trash, they sent it back to you. Perhaps Venice should do the same. Print the public bather in their own news paper. Put them on a no fly list for disgusting behavior in another country. Treat your visit as you want to be treated.

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