The slow death of Venice: “We are considered an unprotected species, but live in a theme park”

Association President Committee Venice Italia Nostra Lidia Fuersoch from Venice has been writing to UNESCO experts since 2011, denouncing the slow death of Venice. “If this ancient civilization no longer exists because the inhabitants have all left, Venice will be an empty theater stage for hordes of tourists to walk and photograph, but they will photograph a corpse.” she asks cynically, watching the tourists pass by. “Venice is losing a thousand people a year, and at this rate, in fifty years, there will be no one in the city, and UNESCO does not understand this. Not only to save the palaces or St. Mark’s Square!”

Venice is in danger of not being added to the World Heritage List

Expulsion of the Venetians

Through Garibaldi, a district near the Armory where Venetians still live, he points out empty shop windows and photographs with his phone at signs indicating houses and businesses are for rent or for sale. The owner of the restaurant next door calls him, “This sign was put up yesterday, the luthier decided to retire, he’s renting out his business, and I think it’s going to be a new bar. The only bankruptcy here is bars. Marco Constantini said. Restaurants run by real Venetians are no longer numerous, and now more tourists sleep in Venice than residents, there are fewer than fifty thousand of us, compared to over two hundred thousand in the 1970s! “

However, the flight of residents is one of the reasons why UNESCO experts have proposed adding Venice to the endangered heritage list. “It is important for us that UNESCO heard our call, As Lidia Fuersoch underlines, Because if Venice is included in this list, it cannot be argued that the state and the municipality are doing everything to save the city, because in reality it is not true. The number of hotels and rooms for rent continues to increase, the number of tourists has become unbearable and cruise ships, of course, no longer pass through the basin of Saint-Marc, but with seven visits a week on the lake, these boats still cause swelling. Damaged houses too! “

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A 5 euro ticket saved the day

A few days before the UNESCO meeting, the municipal council, after a heated debate, decided to use an entry ticket worth five euros per tourist from spring 2024. “This was clearly a decision made to please UNESCO. Alderman Michael Juin says not to beat. We are always listening to reviews. UNESCO challenged us on cruise ships and banned access to the Saint-Marc Basin in 2021; UNESCO was alerted to the fact that Venice was frequently flooded due to high tides, and we accelerated the implementation of the hydraulic barrier system; UNESCO criticizes us for mass tourism and we are the first city in the world to adopt an entry ticket. In this city, they are always strong in talking and criticizing, but in our opinion, the only way to regulate the tourist arrival is with the entrance ticket. “

Entry to Venice will be charged in 2024

From spring 2024, tourists must book their visit if they want to visit Serenissima for just one day. Entrance fees apply on busy days such as May 1 or certain summer weekends. “It’s a crime,” Lidia Fuersoch believes. “With this ticket we are considered an unprotected species, but live in a theme park that visitors pay to come and see! ” Residents have been calling for years for an annual cap on tourism, with a daily number rule even for tourists who sleep in the city.

“The entry ticket will bring in one and a half million euros in 2024, Alderman Michael Juin, who oversees the budget, explains for his part, But we introduced it not for money. With this fund we will invest in renovating low-rent housing to make it easier for families to stay in Venice. He assures.

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Venice, the new Atlantis

Mass tourism, flight of residents and frequent exceptional tides are three threats to the lagoon city.

“I was shocked by the high tide of 1966, I was twelve years old”, says Andrea Rinaldo, a hydraulic engineer who has just won “Stockholm Water Prize” Considered the Nobel Prize for water. This Venetian by birth, Director of the Hydrological Laboratory of the University of Lausanne and Professor of the University of Padua, was classified as: “Venice was born on water, rich and beautiful by water, but can die by water!”

Venetian by birth, he decided to put his knowledge at the service of the city. He seeks funds to fund scientific research to find innovative solutions to prevent Venice from becoming the new Atlantis. “Scientific models are clear that in a hundred years, the sea level will rise by one meter, but if the glaciers melt, maybe three meters more. The MOSE project, the floating barriers, gives us a few years breathing space, but if Venice is to survive after 2100, we need to find long-term solutions. It’s time.”

Exceptional tides would force the lagoon barriers to close more than two hundred days a year, which would spell the death knell for port operations. “Venice, on the contrary, may become a perfect example of resilience, or how a city too beautiful and precious to move can renew itself against rising waters!” Like the dogs that built the walls to protect the city for centuries, Serenissima today needs a new concerted effort to save itself from water and tourists, with or without UNESCO.

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