I used to write blogs about the great things to do in Venice, about the incredible artwork and architecture. And stories about the history behind this incredible city that I love so much. But that was before the absolute masses of people arrived in Venice, 99% with absolutely no interest in those two subjects.
They are there to check a box, to tell their friends they “did” Venice. And these people exhibit the most absolutely abominable behavior. They line up to take the vaporetto to visit Murano, Burano, Torcello. I shudder just thinking about these people stomping through these islands like they are at the State Fair. Are they marveling at the earliest mosaics in Venice found in the Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta in Torcello which was founded in 639 AD? I think not. They are probably lamenting the fact they cannot find a toilet after an hour on the vaporetto! Or that there no gelato. Or that there is no cell phone coverage! And how can they post their selfies?
Piazza San Marco is crowded with tourists milling around? I heard one the other day questioning if the cost of entering the Basilica San Marco was worth the 3€ and the wait. The wait and 3€ to experience the beauty of this basilica started in 832 AD? I could have given them a lecture, but I figured just saying “No” saved everyone some trouble and they would never know what they missed. Another said they had seen enough churches and museums. If you want a quiet space, visit a museum. I have a yearly pass called Friend of MUVE which gives free access, an unlimited number of times to all of the state museums. This includes the Correr, Palazzo Ducale, Ca’Rezzonico, Ca’ Pesaro, Fortuny, Mocenigo, the Natural History Museum, the Glass Museum in Murano, the Lace Museum in Burano, the Clock Tower in Piazza San Marco and Carlo Goldoni’s house. They each have a lovely caffe and always clean bathrooms, an incentive in itself. My favorite is Ca’ Pesaro with its windows where I can sit and watch the traffic on the Grand Canal.
Go to Spain or the Moon!
Now I suggest they go to Lisbon, Madrid, Berlin, the moon (just contact Elon Musk) or absolutely anywhere but Venice. The Venetians, of course, need the tourist money. But most of these hoards of people do not spend huge sums, maybe a slice of pizza, an ice cream they eat while walking around. And every morning the Venetians clean up the bottles, wrappers, and trash these tourist leave around the city. Recently the Mayor has announced a plan where day trippers pay 5 Euro, this will non even pay for the city workers to clean up after them, but perhaps it is a start.
Most of the tourist are “day trippers” basically hit and run arriving and spending about 5-6 hours in Venice. And they think they have “done” Venice. Contrast that with 33 years working there and I am still finding things I had never seen before. And the ever changing exhibits in the museums the lectures and special events.
There is a faceBook page called “Venezia Non è Disneyland (Venice is not Disneyland) because they are tired of tourists treating Venice like they bought a day pass to an amusement park and not like the elegant old lady and UNESCO heritage site it is. It is a treasure unlike any other place on earth, founded by tough, strong people who left us incredibly beautiful palaces floating on water.
The Venetians are tired of them, the restaurants are tired of them, the personnel on the vaporetti are much much more than tired. I wonder how many times each day they say in multiple languages. “Step inside” “Do not block the entrance” “Move to the back” “Make way for the exiting passengers” And mostly it is ignored. The tourists remain firmly planted in the way of passengers. And as shown below they feel they can occupy the seats reserved for the elderly and handicapped with their luggage plus take up two additional seats with their backpacks.
Elderly people deserve respect and deference. Remember these elderly people have no way other than the vaporetto to get to the grocery store, to go to the doctor, the pharmacy or just visit their families. There was a time this was taught to people growing up. But today, the tourist feel it is their right to sit while the elderly stand, to stand in the middle of the exit blocking everyone from getting on the vaporetto or getting off at their stop.
The men and women of the ACTV must move from side to side of the vaporetto in order to open the gates at each stop (which occur on each side, depending the stop). They must constantly run the gauntlet of tourist who refuse to move either from ignorance or the feeling of privilege. My hats are off to these people dealing, patiently with this behavior.
I personally couldn’t do it!
I fear that Venice’s main threat is not the rising sea, it is the tourist