‘Having half a tonne of meat on board is dangerous’: Capacity on Venice gondolas reduced due to ‘overweight’ tourists putting the vessels at risk of flooding
- On smaller boats, only five passengers will be allowed on board, down from six
- Larger gondolas that cross the Grand Canal will have a limit of 12, down from 14
- The gondolier’s association said tourists weigh more compared to 15 years ago
Gondoliers in Venice have cut the number of passengers they allow on their boats due to ‘overweight’ tourists putting their vessels at risk of flooding.
Now just five people will be allowed on a smaller gondola da nolo (a privately-hired boat), reduced from six.
On a larger gondola da parada, which are often used to cross the Grand Canal, only 12 people will be allowed onboard, down from 14.
Raoul Roveratto, president of the association of substitute gondoliers, told Italian publication La Repubblica: ‘Tourists are now overweight, and those arriving from certain countries are bombs.
‘When it’s full the boat sinks and lets in water. Going ahead with more than half a tonne of meat on board is dangerous.’
And Andrea Balbi, president of Venice’s gondolier’s association, told the Guardian: ‘It’s true that compared to 10 or 15 years ago, tourists weigh a bit more.
‘Unlike in a lift, where there’s a message that says “only six people or a maximum weight”, we don’t have scales to weigh people, and so we reduced the number of passengers.’
The limits have been introduced as another new rule comes into force – the children of gondoliers will not have to take a tough theory exam if they want to become gondoliers themselves.
To gain their gondolier licence, all they have to do is prove they can row a gondola and have had at least four years’ experience working on the boats.
Now just five people will be allowed on a smaller gondola da nolo (a privately-hired boat), reduced from six
Earlier this month, meanwhile, Venice conducted a trial run of an ambitious anti-flood system of 78 inflatable barriers, which it is hoped will protect the lagoon city from devastating high tides.
At a ceremony, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte pressed a button that activated compressors to pump air into the bright yellow barriers, which then started rising from the sea to act as a kind of a dike-on-demand. All 78 barriers were successfully raised, authorities said.
The project, riddled by corruption, was supposed to be working in 2011. Now the latest date is 2021, but Conte expressed hope it could be ready by this autumn. In November 2019, Venice suffered its worst flooding in more than 50 years.
Dike-on-demand: Earlier this month Venice conducted a trial run of an ambitious anti-flood system of 78 inflatable barriers