Venice aiming to regain its lost glory

 Monday, June 28, 2021 


Moving away from the once-maddening crowds of St. Mark’s Square, tiny Certosa island could be a model for building a sustainable future in Venice as it plans to restart its tourism industry without bouncing back back to pre-pandemic day-tripping crowds.

Private investment has converted the once forgotten public island just a 15-minute waterbus ride from St. Mark’s Square into an all-around urban park where Venetians and Venice conoscenti can mingle, free from the tensions typical to the lagoon city’s perennial flow of mass tourism.

“This is the B-side of the Venetian LP,” said Alberto Sonino, who heads the development project that comprises a hotel, marina, restaurant and woodland. “Everyone knows the first song of the A-side of our long-play, almost nobody, not even the most expert or locals, know the lagoon as an interesting natural and cultural environment.”

Citing overtourism, UNESCO recommended Venice to be placed on its list of World Heritage in Danger sites. A decision on the same is expected next month.

After a 15-month silence in mass international travel, Venetians are once again thinking how to welcome visitors back to its picture-postcard canals and Byzantine backdrops without suffering the past disgrace of crowds blocking narrow alleyways, day-trippers picnicking on stoops and selfie-takers crowding the Rialto Bridge.

Veneto regional officials have submitted a plan for re-launching the tourism-dependent city to Rome that seeks arrivals of day-trippers, boosting permanent residents, encouraging startups, limiting the stock of private apartment rentals and managing commercial zoning to protect Venetian artisans.

The proposal’s objective, submitted in March, is to make Venice a ‘world sustainability capital,’ and to tap some of the 222 million Euros ($265 million) in EU recovery funds to help hard-hit Italy get back from the pandemic.

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