Italy

Doing the Right Thing

I’m thrilled to hear that Venice is renewing pressure around banning cruise ships of over 1,000 tons from entering Venice proper (that they’re actually banning them is not correct, by the way). You know, I get that Venice depends on tourism to survive, but does anyone actually think that there will ever be fewer cruises heading toward the city because the poor tourists have to take travel a little farther to get to San Marco Square?

Doubtful. Ain’t no one canceling plans over that.

Look, we all know that Venice is in trouble. The sheer volume of cruise ships entering the city increases acid rain and damage to aquatic species, not to mention air pollution. Leaving the issue of overtourism aside (itself a danger to Venice since cruise-ship tourism in Venice has increased by 439 percent in the last 15 years), in the last century alone, the city has sunk nine inches. A new-ish study indicates that Venice could be entirely underwater by 2100 thanks to global warming and the effects of land subsidence caused by the way it’s built, exacerbated by cruise ship damage.

Yes, few of us are likely to be alive in 81 years. I will be deader than a doornail–but a] I would like a treasure like Venice to continue to thrive long after I’m dead (because I’m not a stingy jerk), and b] if Venice is currently flooding around 60 times per year, what do we think is going to happen in five years, ten years, twenty years? The National Research Centre of Venice believes that flooding could occur with almost every single high tide–within fifty years. So even though the city could be completely unliveable and unvisitable in 80-ish years, its demise as a tourist attraction could collapse a lot sooner.

It makes sense to mitigate the damage as much as possible right now, just to buy Venice some extra time. A simple first step is to ban all cruise ships from the canal. It’s not going to solve all the problems, but it’s something. At the very least, not having these hulking things so close to the city will stop incidents such as the cruise ship that hit a dock on Giudecca in June . . . or this delightful incident last month:

Look, I’m not Venetian, nor am I Italian (by nationality or genetics), so maybe I don’t get to make these kinds of wishes. But as someone who will likely visit Venice every other year for the rest of my life (for the art biennale)–and will try to do so ethically–it would be nice not to have to wear hip waders during my visit.

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