by Nick Squires, The Telegraph, May 9, 2018
As Venice tries to reduce the impact of mass tourism, the city has banned the opening of any more takeaway food outlets for the next three years.
It is an attempt to reduce the number of tourists snacking on church steps, historic bridges and canal banks, spoiling the aesthetics of what should be one of the most romantic and refined cities in the world.
Eating in the streets and piazzas of the World Heritage attraction also produces litter and encourages unwelcome flocks of pigeons and seagulls.
Large herring gulls have been known to snatch food out of people’s hands, as they do in some British seaside resorts.
The Venetian authorities are now saying “basta” (enough) to new pizza outlets, kebab shops and street food stalls.
The regulation was approved by Luigi Brugnaro, Venice’s mayor, on Wednesday.
It covers not only Venice but also the outlying islands of Murano and Burano, both of which are popular with visitors.
Murano is famed for its centuries-old tradition of glass blowing and does a thriving trade in selling hand-made ornaments, vases, bowls and even chandeliers.
Venice has struggled for years to impose a sense of decorum on its millions of visitors and takes a dim view of tourists holding impromptu picnics, jumping into canals and wandering around scantily-dressed during the summer.
The city has a public information campaign called #EnjoyRespectVenezia, which calls for tourism that is “in harmony with the daily life of residents”.
Visitors are asked to behave in a “responsible and respectful” manner.
“Steps of churches, bridges, wells, monuments and banks of canals are not picnic areas. Please use the public gardens for this necessity,” the city advises.
Walking around in swimwear such as bikinis is forbidden, as is feeding the pigeons or standing around consuming food and drink in St Mark’s Square.
During a busy bank holiday weekend recently, Venice took the controversial step of installing barriers on streets and bridges leading away from the railway station – one of the city’s main entry points – to manage the flow of tourists.
Protesters said it was a move towards making Venice into a sort of Disneyland, with fixed entry points and possibly a ticket system, but the mayor said the idea was to divert tourists away from the busiest streets leading to the Rialto Bridge and St Mark’s Square.
Mr Brugnaro said the measures were an “experiment”, suggesting that if successful they could be employed again in future.
An average of 60,000 tourists a day descend on Venice – more than its population.