It was the scene of Thomas Mann’s famous work, ‘Death in Venice’ but now Venetians have held a mock funeral to highlight the Italian city’s sinking population.Carrying a coffin through Venice’s historic canals the event’s organisers say the watered city has become a ghost town, flooded with tourists. They claim numbers have dipped under 60,000, a statistic authorities deny. Even so, Venice’s population is about a third of the level it was during the 1950’s. Many blame the tourist overflow, arguing it has led to rising food and property prices, pushing many residents out. Arriving at the mayor’s office, the funeral procession smashed open the coffin, symbolically freeing the city’s flag in the hope that one day those Venetians that have left may decide to return.