Although tourism in Venice is an important source of wealth for the city, the management of huge number of visitors arriving by sea, air and land every day makes life difficult for the few remaining residents. Those who decide to stay struggle to conduct a normal life._
It’s almost impossible to find a Venetian during the day when the tourists flooding the streets dilute the local population almost to invisibility. But at night, when the locals turn on their lights they can be spotted amid the glare produced by the tourist hotels.
Many fear that the daily rhythm of tourism is turning the city into an amusement park that opens in the morning and closes as night falls, as depicted in Enrico Michieletto’s documentary Veniceland.
“I have no more neighbours,” says Elisa Mion, a 39 year old art conservator living in Venice. “Most of the restaurants, markets and traditional shops in Venice have closed, and we find it hard to buy groceries and other goods at a normal price. Everything’s planned for a touristic purpose.”
Overcrowding is not the only tourist-related problem threatening Venice – the cruise ships that bring a part of the visitors are also accused of polluting the delicate ecosystem of the city. The two problems are often conflated, but for people living in the city on the water, it’s the sheer numbers that have the biggest impact on their day to day life..
In October 2016 the municipality of Venice set up a special committee dedicated to find new strategies for managing the crowds and funneling visitors along a selected number of routes.
Discussions are still under way and since then, groups of citizens and organizations have been invited to present proposals for sustainable tourism. Among the ideas introduced is that of Generazione 90, an informal group of people created to give voice to the younger generations of Venice. They suggested a plan of structured hubs located in the access points of the city to control and regulate the entrance of tourists over the day.
But one of the hardest things to be managed in Venice is transport.
“When my work day is over, then another struggle begins, that of waiting in line, like a tourist, for a vaporetto to take me home,” Mion says.
In Venice, where cars are banned, walking up and down the bridges that connect the streets is the only alternative to boats for reaching one point or another of the city.
Mion is critical of the lack of solutions proposed by the authorities to offer public transport suited to residents.