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Venice is one big cliché
The canals and bridges, Piazza San Marco, red table clothes, aperol spritz, Panama hats and gondola kitsch. I am pretty certain you don’t need to have travelled there for these to feel so familiar?
I watched some Insta Reels before my trip, but as soon I arrived, I knew I didn’t want a gondola ride or a selfie on the Rialto Bridge.
What story could be written about this city of canals?
Venice is so welcoming; from the plane, to the bus to the vaporetto (water bus), hassle-free and a wonderful introduction to the wheel-free city! I am so impressed with the water bus service, the cost, the fabulous sight-seeing and consideration shown to (elderly) passengers, mums and babies too.
Contrary to perceptions, the city has the space to explore and enjoy the canals, bridges and calli beyond the much-publicised crowds and tourist-tat sellers in the San Marco and Rialto districts. It cannot be enjoyable to jostle your way around a destination, mindful of pickpockets, premium prices and queuing for that dubious selfie. It would be the equivalent of only visiting Leicester Square and Oxford Street on a trip to London…leading to disappointment and quite possibly never returning. Which would be a shame as both cities have so much to offer.
Rinse and Repeat
There is so much churn from influencer accounts with huge followers, posting the same views - at different times of day perhaps, the same food, the same bridge, the same piazza, gondolas, gelato, bums, red table clothes…rinse and repeat.
But how can a balance be struck when almost all mature destinations call for dispersal and visitor nights, and influencers and some travel writers will just not be put off. They have a role in attracting visitors sure, but aren’t they simply adding to the problem with lazy and easy-like’s posting? What is your experience? Are there any destinations that get this right? What is the solution?
I wasn’t able to tick off some of the key sights, but I have other pictures and memories of this helpful, easy and safe city that lives life so differently without cars, busses, taxi’s, bicycles, nor scooters.
The impact and experience of a wheel-free city was not communicated and has left me wondering that my life would be a whole lot better too. It not only enhanced the ‘canals and bridges’ experience, but enabled so much more unexpected including; helping the turtle escape committee (you will have to ask), hearing the cries of the swifts feeding overhead, the bells in the campanile, after dinner drinks from a hole in the wall bar, hearing locals greet one another, noticing the colourful window boxes, heady jasmine summer scent, the amazing Biennale on foot and best of all, wandering with no particular destination in mind and yes, eating gelato every day!
It’s not a cliché of course, it’s a city with depth and wonderful layers of life, but sadly portrayed as one.
There were 1.4 million international tourist arrivals in 2021, increasing from 0.92 million in 2020. Overall, the combined domestic and international tourist arrivals in Venice were 2.1 million in 2021, still well below the peak of 5.5 million in 2019.
There has been an overnight tax charged for years, collected by the accommodation provider that ranges from €1 - €5 pp for the first five nights. I can’t see what impact this has on visitor nights.
The number of residents in Venice has dramatically declined, and when it’s really busy, there are more visitors than locals. This adds to the housing pressure.
Following disagreement from residents and businesses, the proposed entry fee - or day-tripper tax, intended to regulate visitor numbers has run aground, again. Residents don’t want their city perceived as a theme park with entry tickets.
Much publicised, cruise ships weighing more than 25,000 tonnes are at last banned from docking in the Unesco world heritage site. The visitors are ferried in by smaller boats straight into the San Marco Piazza.
It wasn’t until 2010 that the 900 hundred-year-old glass ceiling was broken when Giorgia Boscolo passed the gondola exam, but remains the only woman gondolier.
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