Truman Capote once said, “Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go.” I don’t know how it is eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs, but I believe I can understand that overwhelming feeling Venice gives to the lucky traveller who is strolling around its streets, canals and beautiful corners. The city is so spectacular that every year more and more tourists come to see it, reaching almost seven million visitors last year. Beware though: if economically speaking this could seem a positive trend, I must say that locals don’t feel comfortable with it and have been developing an aversion towards tourists.
But why? Are they some kind of awful individuals not willing to share their luck? Are they not grateful to the benefits brought by tourism to their economy?
Well, of course, they are friendly and grateful people, but they don’t think that they and their city should be enslaved by money. You see, even though I am do enjoy having tourists from all over the world around when heading to university or just going for a walk, I must admit there are plenty of disrespectful people making you wish you could send them home with a kick where the sun doesn’t shine. Visitors thinking Venice is an amusement park or a beach, disrespecting local customs, people and environment are threatening this amazing UNESCO Word Heritage Site, and we do not want that. So let me give you a few tips on how to visit Venice with a bit of Travel Ethics so that you can enjoy the city and Venice can enjoy having you here.
Venice is not just for tourists: check your surroundings before taking pictures or randomly stopping
I know, I know, it is extremely difficult. Maybe it’s your first time here and you’ve never seen a city like this before, so you basically walk confusedly around, dazzled by such grandeur. Well, I’ve got news for you: people actually LIVE in Venice, they need to reach their workplace, university, hospital or whatever, so here’s for you a pair of rules to follow:
- Keep to the right when walking in the historic centre.
- When using public transport, do not to stand in front of the entrance. In this way you won’t obstruct the passageways. Put your backpack on the ground in order to let more space to other passengers or not hit them.
- Do not stand in groups on the bridges and, please, if you’re carrying a suitcase with wheels, avoid pulling it over the steps since it will wear them out and cause serious damage to bridge structures.
Nobody likes trash on the ground, so don’t litter under any circumstances
If you can’t find a bin, wait and keep your trash on you till you’ll find one, you eventually will. If the wait or the weight is too hard to bear, ask to a bar, restaurant or shop if they have a bin.
Avoid padlocks, writing or drawing on monuments, walls, various surfaces
You love Venice? You’ve been here? You love your fiancée? Good for you! But we will survive without knowing it by reading a drooled signature on a statue we love, thanks.
Respect Venice, its customs and locals
- Although facing the sea, Venice is not a beach. If you want to show your new bikini, your six-pack abs or have a swim, head to Lido. Venice is a city of culture, art, history: do not go around shirtless or in swimwear, do not swim, bathe you, your items and/or animals in canals.
- Be mindful of your speaking volume: even if we Italians are wordly renowned for being loud, check your sorroundings and your voice volume. Don’t speak loudly in churches, for instance.
- Dress yourself accordingly to the local costumes:
..no, not like that. We do not have a precise dress code, but, for example, if you visit Basilica di San Marco, avoid short skirts or too much skin exposed. It’s a matter of religious respect, therefore don’t complain about guards not letting you enter a church if you aren’t dressed accordingly.
- Don’t feed animals, in particular pigeons. There’s a reason behind the disappearance of wheat sellers in Piazza San Marco and that is that those lovely birds ruin the artistic beauty of the city.
Experience the real Venice, not the touristic one
- Learn a few phrases in Italian, so that it will be easier and funnier to approach locals.
- Talk to locals, ask them questions and tips, they’ll be happy to see genuine interest in their city. Be always respectful and you’ll see Venice from their point of view.
- Buy locally made products and use local services in order to support the Venetian community: avoid big commercial chains as well as illegal vendors, look for a real Venetian experience!
- You’re in Venice, do not eat at McDonald’s, for heaven’s sake. Try local cuisine, support local restaurants, try local fish!
- Don’t limit yourself to clichés! Explore Venice, get lost, visit the islands and all the secret corners your Lonely Planet doesn’t mention!
Last but not least.. HAVE FUN!
Header picture: image copyrights Moyan Brenn