Venice, Italy Tourism: Did You Miss the Boat?


 

Venice_cruise_ship_San_Marco

If Venice, Italy is a destination on your bucket list then this is for you.

While satellite information has shown that Venice is sinking 1-2mm per year, it is actually the highest-ever numbers in tourism that have become the most pressing issue today. It is a valid concern that overcrowding could (and has) led to deterioration and pollution of historic and fragile sites in Venice such as the Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco, and it is in our best interests that the situation improves.

Bear in mind that UNESCO considers the entire city a World Heritage Site, a status indicating that on a cultural level, Venice belongs to all of us.

Venice Tourism Numbers

It has been reported by the Telegraph that visitors to Venice have reached 60-90,000 per day. That’s nearly 22 million per year. Additional statistics provided by the Venetian Tourism Office indicate that 4.5 million people stayed overnight in Venice last year, a number that increases annually. On average, these overnight visitors chose to stay 2 nights.

Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro and counsel member for tourism Paola Mar say they have made it a priority to implement measures to manage tourist flows. I’ve had recent correspondence with tourism officials and while there is not yet an estimated date of implementation, new regulations will attempt to inform and re-direct visitors when fragile sites become overcrowded, with a possibility of raising prices on certain dates. Part of this strategy includes issuing new maps and itineraries to encourage tourists to visit areas beyond the city center. My personal contribution is a feature on this blog where I spent time visiting islands in the Venice lagoon; I highly recommend it.

Is a Magical Trip to Venice Still Possible?

Yes, I’ve just done it myself in October! While afternoons at popular areas such as San Marco and Rialto can be utterly claustrophobic you can still have a magical experience by visiting them in the early mornings and late evenings. Another great option is to wander the neighborhoods of San Polo and Dorsoduro. Irish Photographer Maggy Morrissey put it well when she said, “If you get up early enough and visit at the right time of year (i.e. winter) then you can have the busiest of cities to yourself.” Check out photos of my morning walk around Venice — it was nearly empty.

Avoiding Tourist Traps in Venice

There are many ways to navigate Venice smart and efficiently, the most common being to avoid restaurants with a man outside attracting customers or displaying photos of food. Great lesser-known tips are to graze at ciccheti bars which offer small food plates (similar to Spanish tapas) for €1-2 each, take out your own gondola after a lesson from Row Venice, or find real handmade gelato at Gelateria Alaska in the Santa Croce neighborhood.

oOo

Don’t wait any longer—Wherever you’ve always wanted to go, pick a date and book it.

Meet Suzette
suzetteWelcome! I'm Suzette, an Emmy Award winning visual effects artist and travel photographer passionate about doing some living! I have been traveling for the better part of the last ten years in an effort to get out of my bubble and gain some understanding of the world. No matter where I go, I seek out gems off the beaten path and this site is my attempt to show you how to do the same.

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  • https://www.michwanderlust.com Michelle

    I think when it comes to travelling, the early bird really does get the worm! It’s so often totally worth it to wake up extra early to catch the city while most people are still sleeping 😉 I’ve such mixed feelings about Venice – on the one hand, I’d love to see it, but on the other, I don’t want to be part of the problem. Would probably go in the off-season if I ever make it there!

    • Suzette Barnett

      Hi Michelle! Thanks for writing. I have the same mixed feelings about Venice though I’m so glad I finally took the plunge and visited. Better late than never 😉 This whole idea of having a city to myself has really brought about a whole new level of travel for me, filled with many more special moments than before. Last week in Patagonia I went for a climb at dawn to shoot the sunrise and out of the blue a herd of horses came down the mountain passing right in front of me, with gaucho in the back. Just me and the clicking hooves on a mountain top…. <3

  • David C. Phillips

    Hi Suz,

    Great post. Having just come back from a 3 week visit there and talking to locals who are involved in the tourist industry I can tell you that tourism is a big issue there. Venetians have invested considerably in an infrastructure designed to benefit from tourists. The commercial side of it is, obviously the more visitors, the more money. However, many Venetians also think that enough is enough. I saw one sign that said, “Venice is a Real City” and there is much protest against the “grande nave” (cruise ships). I love Venice. I hate being part of throngs of tourists who make the place almost impassable. I found two solutions. One is to go in Winter (I was there in November and December) when the city is still wonderful and the tourist traffic is more moderate. The other is to wander off the beaten path. There are still neighborhoods where the population on the streets is predominantly Venetian and I really enjoyed that. I also tended to walk up to 10 miles a day, many of those miles before the average tourist has managed to climb out of bed:-) The city is still beautiful. For my part, I would not dream of going there in summer!

    • Suzette Barnett

      Thank you so much David, it certainly is a pressing issue and I want to be part of the solution and encourage others to do so as well. I know you’ve spent a lot of time in Venice recently and so your feedback is great to hear. Couldn’t agree more on your suggestions for avoiding traffic, thank you again and I’m so glad you had a great trip!

      • David C. Phillips

        The problem is caused within Venice itself and is solvable only by the Venetians at this point. It’s their city and they can easily control the situation but there is a lot of money and investment at stake and vested interests. I highly recommend that Venice study Bhutan’s approach to tourism and everyone could win!

        • Suzette Barnett

          Great point!