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Venice, Italy tops our memories of favorite places we’ve had dream vacations to — unfortunately tops today’s headlines far too often as a magical place that is currently flooding and drowning in both tourists and flood waters. We might be among the last generations to ever see Venice as it once was for centuries. What a sad place emotionally to be -- knowing that it is at least in large part a situation, we humans have created through global warming and irresponsible tourism overcrowding. Just like there are endangered species, there are endangered places -- Venice, Italy is currently at the top of this uncomfortable and sad list.
First - Let’s Talk About Overtourism
Well, pretty much every world traveler longs to see the Venice of old -- so much much beauty, so much history, so much art for the soul. Hoards of day trippers off massive competing cruise ship lines invade Venice during the peak months summer vacations. The height of the tourist season is from July to September.
Added to the “too many people vacationing there at the same time” -- Venice can swell to well over 120,000 (one hundred and twenty thousand visitors) on some days. That number far dwarfs the locals residents who number less than a third of that staggering number.
Consider this -- Venice is a small place, a place where you can walk from one end of the city to the complete opposite end in less than an hour. The city itself is only three miles long and two miles wide. That’s roughly about the same size as American cities: Bismark, South Dakota; Pine Bluff, Arkansas; or Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
Now, think about all of these invading tourists were swarming like flies in your small fragile, beautiful and old city? Venice has been there since 421 AD. These tourists unwittingly by their sheer numbers are all clamoring to see places like St. Mark’s Square; Ponte di Rialto on the Rialto Bridge; Piazza San Marco; Basilica de San Marco; The Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri; and Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace).
No one wants to miss taking a Gondola Ride or making the trek to the island on the Venetian Lagoon by boat to Murano Island to buy coveted Murano glass. Over 20 million (20,000,000) guests both welcomed for the economy and unwelcomed for the problems they bring to this city of less than 55,000 people.
It’s all the hidden problems, not so obvious to the naked tourist eyes, that we sometimes miss when we choose a vacay destination. Obviously, no one wants to miss seeing Venice. We certainly did not.
But we also didn’t see until after-the-fact, that we might have been contributing to the over tourism problem. We simply weren’t thinking -- How does tourism drive up the prices of local properties to the point of where only the wealthy can afford to live there at a certain point? Maybe, as Central Floridians, we should have understood this. Tourists coming here usually have no idea how they impact our daily lives in terms of property values, traffic, road-rage, car accidents, litter, high gas prices and on and on.
Quality of life diminishes for the locals anywhere there is overcrowding in tourism. In Venice it is -- littering, disrespect vacation party late night neighbors, exhaust from cruise ships, pollution, a crumbling infrastructure of fragile ancient buildings and streets.
So, what is the answer to over tourism in Venice, Italy? Well, that’s a complicated situation that can’t easily be solved, especially when you consider Venice’s other “big” problem -- being a city that is sinking into the sea with the rising sea waters brought on by a warming climate.
What we do know is that as world travelers, we need to each be personally accountable as tourists. We think it’s about the moral obligation think before you book your trip to Venice. Try booking off season - Venice is still beautiful in the winter.It’’s also a better vacation value in terms of cost. Go local, rather than strictly tourist when you are there - learn some Italian, be respectful and appreciative of such a wonderful city as Venice, Italy. Enjoy all that Venice has to offer while it’s still afloat.
Lastly, as more and more “worst floods” swamp Venice, again and again with rising sea levels and crazy weather events, and the city of Venice races to implement their construction of underwater steel barriers amid a sea of red-tape, rising costs, and political corruption -- let’s all hope that Project Moses not only works to save Venice but also happens in time to save Venice.
WE LOVE VENICE!!
Venice, Italy on a sunny happy day!
Check out this great video of the many sites (including Venice, Italy) that we saw on this trip!