A group of tourists were dumped into one of Venice’s famous canal’s after failing to take heed of advice to stop taking selfies and sit down on a wobbling gondola.
Footage of the aftermath showed several travellers rethinking their choices as they bobbed in the water next to a capsized canal boat.
The group had been shifting around the vessel, posing for photos in front of famous landmarks before the gondolier had to tell them to sit down and stay still while they made a careful manoeuvre under a bridge near St Mark’s Square.
But when they ignored him and carried on, the boat rolled over and left the whole group in the drink, local media reported.
In videos shared on TikTok, the tourists were seen clinging onto the upturned boat and trying to pull themselves up into another passing boat.
The tourists were pictured in the canal after falling from the boat as it passed near a bridge
The tourists were reportedly told to keep still and sit down to keep the boat steady
Some clung on to another passing boat after falling into the canal near St Mark’s Square
After the boat capsized, the gondolier jumped into the freezing canal to help his passengers to safety, The New York Post reported.
The Venezia Non è Disneyland (Venice Is Not Disneyland) page on Instagram, sharing tourist exploits around the city, said the group escaped safely and was provided ‘hospitality and warmth’ in the La Fenice theatre nearby.
The page exists to document the ‘inappropriate’ behaviours of Venice’s 20 million annual visitors, a divided city which has for years struggled with overtourism.
In a 2021 interview, the page’s founders described regular problems of tourists swimming in the canals, which they warned was ‘unsafe and dirty, so it’s not ideal for sanitary reasons’.
‘We really love that many people want to see Venice and we think it’s such a beautiful city that everybody should see it. But we really think travelers should get off-the-beaten-path a lot more in Venice,’ they said.
In 2022, the mayor of Venice weighed in with similar concerns, sharing a video of two brazen tourists riding motorised surfboards through the Grand Canal.
Mayor Luigi Brugnaro called them ‘imbeciles’ who were making a mockery of Venice in a post, calling on citizens to help identify and find the surfers.
He offered a free dinner to anyone could could help bring them to justice.
‘Venice is NOT Disneyland,’ he captioned a video of the pair passing under an arched bridge.
The Australian tourists were ultimately caught and fined 1,500 euros each, according to La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre.
The mayor said he wanted to see them prosecuted for staining the city’s image.
Venice will now become the first city in the world to charge day-trippers an entry fee in a determined bid to curb mass tourism, its tourism chief announced in September.
From 2024, the city will introduce a €5 fee for tourists passing through, though hotel and Airbnb stayers will not be affected by the move, Simone Venturini said.
The fee will be trialled for 30 days next year to start, focusing mainly on spring bank holidays and summer weekends when tourism numbers are at their peak.
The scheme aims to find ‘a new balance between the rights of those who live, study or work in Venice and those who visit the city,’ tourism chief Simone Venturini said.
It comes in response to growing backlash against the influx of day-trip holidaymakers and large cruise ships crowding the city.
But critics say the fee misses the point, ignoring the more fundamental issue of short-stay Airbnb rentals keeping rents high and deterring permanent residents.
Matteo Secchi, president of the Venice residents’ activist group, said the new fee would effectively turn the city into ‘Disneyland’.
‘Making visitors pay to get in turns Venice into a museum or a theme park rather than a city where people live, go to the supermarket and drop their kids off at school,’ he said.
From above, a capsized Gondola with tourists still swimming around it in Venice
Tourists are seen enjoying gondola rides through Venice’s famed canals, September 3, 2023
Protesters demonstrate against mass tourism and huge cruise ships, and call for a change in how tourists are catered for in the city after the lockdown in Venice, Italy. June 13, 2020
Plans to introduce fees on day tourists were originally raised in 2019 but postponed due to the pandemic.
Last year, Venice finally made plans to charge tourists €10 to enter the city all year round but ultimately scrapped the policy, with Venturini citing ‘resistance’.
A spokesperson for Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said late last year that the plans had been delayed as the city council had not yet fully approved a new admissions process.
Technical and procedural issues were expected to set the scheme back six months.