Famous names including Mick Jagger and Tilda Swinton are supporting an appeal urging the Italian government to introduce a new law protecting Venice.
Since Italy eased coronavirus travel restrictions in mid-May, tourists have started returning to Venice. However, locals do not want it to return to pre-pandemic levels. Then the city was full of day trippers and giant cruise ships which affected life for locals.
Produced by the Venetian Heritage Foundation the open letter has 21 high-proile signatories from the world of art and culture. It was sent to Italian president, Sergio Mattarella, and the prime minister, Mario Draghi.
“This isn’t a collection of signatures just to name-drop, it’s a collection of signatures of people who often come to Venice and who we know directly,” said Toto Bergamo Rossi, the president of the Venetian Heritage Foundation.
News that the first post-lockdown cruise ship, MSC Orchestra, would sail past St Mark’s Square on Saturday triggered the appeal. This is despite the government’s announcement in late March banning cruise ships from the historic centre.
The letter lists 10 points considered essential for Venice’s survival that ought to be enshrined in law. The list includes:
- include completing works on the Mose flood barrier
- banning cruise ships from the lagoon and protecting its ecosystem
- limiting tourist numbers and managing the flow better
- introducing rules governing short-term holiday home rentals
- preserving the city’s decorum.
Bergamo Rossi, who was born in Venice, said “It’s always the same thing, like a game of ping-pong. If we look back to 2019, Venice was impossible – you couldn’t walk in the city any more due to the crowds, there were even fewer inhabitants and good quality shops, and no controls over B&Bs. We can’t go back to this.”
Venice hosted an estimated 28 million visitors a year before the pandemic.