But not this time about ships. No, this time there’s a move to ban “noisy wheeled luggage”. Here’s link to the story on the BBC News site. (Update: Liz in Venice says that the Special Commissioner for Venice has denied the whole story – see her comment below.)
This is simply not going to work. We’ve visited Venice twice. Once was on a cruise, in which circumstance the luggage issue didn’t arise, and the second time was on a weekend break. For that visit our luggage consisted of two small airline cabin bags. We took the ATVO bus from the airport to Piazzale Roma, crossed the Grand Canal and then walked to our hotel at the far end of Cannaregio. While part of this was along a couple of reasonably-wide and bridge-free ‘roads’, the far end of the walk involved smaller streets and lot of small, hump-backed bridges over small canals or branches of canals. You probably have to pick the bag up while going over the bridges, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be carrying my bag, even that fairly light carry-on bag, for any length of time. And as for carrying a large bag all that way – just not possible. All through that weekend we saw a number of people with large bags and they were obviously wilting just having to carry them over the bridges. Carrying them all the way from the roadhead at Piazzale Roma or the station just the other side of the Grand Canal just isn’t feasible. The image below shows how awkward some small canal bridges can be – after struggling over that, you wouldn’t want to carry you bag much further, you’d pull it along if you could.
There are alternatives, of course. If your hotel is close to a vaporetto route you could take one of them from Piazzale Roma. That said, I wouldn’t want to try it at a busy time – the vaporettos can get very busy and crowded, and struggling on and off them with luggage doesn’t look like fun. (I’ve seen people doing it.) Alternatively, if your hotel is reasonably near a canal you could travel to it in a water taxi launch. There’s no doubt, there is a huge ‘cool’ factor in doing this – the picture on that BBC News site is of a gaggle of such launches during the Alamuddin/Clooney nuptials, I believe – but there’s an equally huge cost factor – €110 or more from the airport to the hotel, or at least €50 from Piazzale Roma to your hotel. Even then, unless your hotel is on a canal and ideally has a water gate, you’ll be finishing off the journey on foot, dragging (or carrying) your bags.
Maybe Venice has just decided that to get rid of mass tourism? A return to the Belle Epoque when there were few visitors who all stayed at the luxury hotels along the main canals and could afford the water-taxis? Well, maybe. It would be a profound change to the city and perhaps not entirely negative. But if that’s the plan, they should say so. And to be honest, I am glad I’ve visited Venice – it is a profoundly beautiful city on a very human scale, and I think my life is better for having been there. While I recognise the problems that mass tourism can bring to a place, I wouldn’t want the benefit I’ve received to not be available to others.