With the borders open to US citizens, plus Europeans keen to travel by car to their vacation destinations, the tourists are back in Venice this summer and in plenty.
And so are the long queues.
Additionally, owing to the long lines armed guards were sent in to keep the masses under control this summer. Since late June, guards have been posted at major Vaporetto (waterbus) stops on the busiest days.
Tensions had been high earlier in the summer when an unexpected rush of visitors descended on the city, which had become used to low visitor numbers since the pandemic began.
In Italy, passenger numbers on public transportation are still restricted; now, government law states that in “white zone” districts (which Veneto is), vehicles can carry up to 80% of their capacity, up from 50% until June, when it was a “yellow zone.”
With visitors returning to the city and the lines becoming longer, there were regular clashes between enraged residents and boat crews who, in order to adhere to capacity rules, refused to let them board.
Reportedly, the workers requested the guards to be deputed to overlook the key stops in the floating city. According to CNN reports, although these guards aren’t obliged to carry weapons, those who are licensed to do so may bring them to work — and many are opting to.
Such armed guards have been spotted by CNN over the past few weeks at vaporetto stops around the city, including Ca’ d’Oro and Rialto on the Grand Canal, San Zaccaria (for St. Mark’s Square), Piazzale Roma (the gateway to the Italian mainland) and San Basilio, in the Dorsoduro district.
Meanwhile, the arrival of the guards comes at a period when lines to board vessels can be hundreds deep at peak times. Reportedly, many of the locals believe the situation is worse than it was pre-pandemic, despite the fact that long queues to the islands and beaches have always existed during tourist season.
Over the past few weeks, CNN has been sent photos by locals of the armed guards They have also been seen on the islands of Murano and Lido — both the scenes of hundreds-strong lines of people attempting to board the boats.
Although the figure of 50,000 visitors per day pouring into a city with 50,000 residents is commonly cited, data from the city’s new Smart Control Room, which tracks visitor activity in Venice, shows that 80,000 visitors per day have been flooding the city this week, outnumbering local residents by more than 50%, CNN reported citing local media inputs.