Postcard from... Venice


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The Independent Online

Venice’s canals looked exquisite in this morning’s autumn sunshine. But most tourists weren’t able to enjoy them – thanks to a boat and water taxi strike that put paid to any hopes of wafting down the Grand Canal.

The waterways were eerily quiet due to the protest at new safety regulations planned by the City’s Council. According to the local Il Gazzettino newspaper, only deliveries of school meals and hospital medicines were guaranteed today.

The measures that prompted the strike centre on a 26-point plan announced last month that aims to cut dangerous overcrowding.

It was prompted in part by the death in August of the German tourist Joachim Vogel, killed when the gondola he was travelling in hit a water taxi, in the heavily congested area around the Rialto Bridge.

Vessels face new restrictions on their movements and are required to carry GPS tracking devices. Forty surveillance cameras placed over the Grand Canal between the railway station and St Mark’s Square are on the lookout for offenders.

The plan to track movements of boats, water taxis, and eventually even gondolas, has caused particular anger.

Francesco Tagliapietra of the Ascom trade association, which fears the new regulations will hit business, said: “We didn’t want this war but now we’ll see how the city manages without supplies.”