Death in Venice – but this time it's Bogarde's beach

Scene immortalised by Dirk Bogarde film will be lost under plans to develop sand dunes. Michael Day reports on the backlash

It is one of the most poignant moments in modern film: Dirk Bogarde as the ageing and ailing German composer Gustav von Aschenbach watches transfixed from his deck chair as Tadzio, the blond youth he is obsessed with, wades slowly out into the sun-drenched Venetian lagoon. The Mahler score soars heavenward, the youth points enigmatically out to sea – and the composer lurches forward in his chair, dead from a heart attack.

The scene was shot at Venice Lido's Alberoni Baths, one of the resort's oldest bathing establishments, where little has changed in a century. As the credits rolled and the camera panned, von Aschenbach's limp corpse was lugged away past the scenic lines of bathing huts.

The film Death in Venice, based on the Thomas Mann novella of the same name, made the area a favourite with cinema buffs and tourists. But now the death knell is sounding for that beloved cinematic backdrop.

The city council is planning to develop a sand dune – 80 metres long and 50 metres deep – that would result in the destruction of the decades-old beach huts, as well as the characteristic Bagni Alberoni bathing establishment, which has stood on the site since the early 1900s. The plans would change the beach beyond recognition, says the Alberoni Committee, which is campaigning against the development and has collected more than 2,000 signatures on its petition to save the landmark site.

Stefano Bartoli, the owner of the Bagni Alberoni bathing establishment, said: "If these plans go ahead, we will have to close, it's that simple. It won't be possible to stay open. And if we close lots of jobs will be lost and the local community will die – so too will a little piece of history."

Nobody at Venice council was available for comment. However, the Italian news agency Ansa quoted the council as saying that the area had been classified as a nature reserve and therefore needed protecting. As well as its intense light and fine sand, the Venice lagoon area is noted for its own sub-tropical microclimate with many rare species of plants and animals.

Members of the Alberoni Committee told The Independent, however, that the authorities had allowed the beach to fall into such a state of disrepair that such a justification was hard to believe. "They seem to come up with a different excuse every month," said one member Silvia Orio, who owns a hotel in the area. "To be honest, I'm not really sure why they want to close it."

The campaigners are determined to stop the construction of the dunes. "This is a special place and it's been a place for intellectuals," said Ms Orio. "It would be a tragedy if it went and we're not going to give up the fight."

This week the Committee took out a out a full-page advertisement in the local Corriere del Veneto newspaper in an effort to warn the public of the council's plans and to raise support for the campaign.

The Alberoni Committee website, www.savevenetianbeach.com, has been funded by local residents and businesses, and the hope is that many more residents will sign the petition.

Ms Orio stressed that the next few weeks of the campaign would critical. "We expect the council to make a decision by the end of September, so what we do now will be vital," she said.

Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments