House Move in Venice
    By Tommaso Dorigo | December 6th 2012 05:29 AM | 6 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Tommaso

    I am an experimental particle physicist working with the CMS experiment at CERN. In my spare time I play chess, abuse the piano, and aim my dobson...

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    Venice is a wonderful place to visit, if you have a week or even a weekend to spend immersed in art and history, or just to get lost in it and enjoy the romanticism of the place. However, if you live there you tend to hate the town as much as you love it.

    Take a house move for instance: nowhere is a house move a kid's game -it is in fact a well-known cause of stress in any circumstance. But in Venice it may become a real trauma. The problem is multi-fold: houses do not usually have an elevator; stairs are usually too narrow for any piece of furniture; space in front of one's windows may be too limited for any manouver.

    And then there's the issue with transporting stuff from one place to another: you have to use a boat. Besides the larger cost of boat transportation as compared with a semi-truck or van, boats used for transportation do not protect from rain, so the weather factor can pitch in and change your schedule any time.

    I moved from an apartment to another yesterday, and the fact that today I am relatively fine (the aftermath physically amounting to back and muscle pain and some knee trouble) means that I was really lucky. The old place is basically empty now, and the new one already quite livable -some scattered boxes of books and other stuff are still around, but apart from that there's no real sign of the fierce battle that took place yesterday.

    The big problem, however, is that I have no internet connection there yet -the phone company that provides it is taking its time to do it. So I expect less blogging capabilities for a while - I will do my blogging during office hours, but this is probably going to mean shorter posts in the next couple of weeks.


    My deepest commiserations Tommaso. Venice is just as much a rip off to the unsuspecting tourist as is London, with the added fact that your mayor hates tourists. Read this for starters-
    Forget that broadband connection, it's doubtful they will ever install it- try a local cafe for less than a €6 coffee tourist rate.

    Ha ha. The connection was installed in my old house within a week one year ago, so either they transport it now, or I'll change provider.

    I read the piece. I don't even know where to start. It's full of nonsense from start to end, thick with inaccuracies about the history, and deliberately outrageous -such that I feel no need to do anything but ignore it. The author is either an idiot or she likes to play one.

    However, just so you know it: the new Mayor is a way less reasonable person than Cacciari, and he does all he can to please hotel and restaurant owners so that these in turn can please tourists.

    In case you were instead interested to know the truth about the situation of Venice and why it is only reasonable that an entry fee is paid, there are tons of good sources describing the wreck of the town, which has been sold out to become a theme park.

    Hi Tommaso, I am interested in your opinion about that.
    I also had the striking impression, during my only visit to Venice a dozen of years ago, that by being obviously a tourist (I suppose that my accent was a tell-tale sign) I was not very welcome by locals, in a much stronger way than in any other touristic destination I know of. And I was truly unbiased: in my naivete, I didn't expect that. I then had this discussion with some other Venice residents, who truly hated tourists in a way that I found excessive (and I come from a region plagued by mass tourism too, although on a more diluted way.)
    I understand that mass tourism in general degrades a place in many ways. But tourism is also a fantastic way to get a steady flux of money from outside. So, I would say that one should be happy with tourism, and if tourism does more harm than good than I would blame insufficient regulations, more than the tourists themselves.
    And I am not against the idea of an entry tax, for example.
    But, to be provocative, what would happen to the Venice economy if all of a sudden Venice becomes a very unpopular destination and no tourist comes anymore, or only few nice "elite tourists" continue to come while the stupid & ignorant people interested in a theme park with gondolas move to a more trendy place?
    To be even more provocative: I remember a factor of 5 in cost between the boat ticket for residents and non-residents, and that lady's article mentions a similar ratio. What would be the cost for residents if mass tourism disappeared? Still the same that they pay today, or closer to what non-residents pay today, or somewhere in the middle? Is it justified to think that non-residents are allowing the service to exist at reasonable prices for the residents?
    (This is not a rhetoric question, I completely ignore the answer but maybe you can provide some semi-quantitative answer using your inside knowledge of the issues of public transportation in Venice.)

    Ciao Andrea,

    the problem is that in Venice tourism does not make the city wealthier; it makes wealthier only hotels, shops, and restaurants owners, who in large part are not venetians. The large majority of the residents get only the worse of it: bad services, the interest of the mayor for "big events" (such as the America's cup) and the unconcern for the life of residents. Venice has become a theme park, and the continuous escape of residents (down to 55,000 from the >100,000 of a few decades ago) is no longer a problem apparently.

    My son is 13 and he would like to skate somewhere. There is no place for him to go - when he was younger he could play in Campo S.Giacomo, for instance, but now he is constantly kicked
    away wherever he goes. How is it possible that a city invests millions of euros for big events and forgets the needs of children ? Go find a tennis court, a decent gym, a soccer court in Venice: not much available. And this despite the fact that the city is relatively wealthy.

    You ask for boat tickets. It is true, residents pay 1,30 euros and tourists pay 6 euros. However I believe that the correct price for the service is in the whereabouts of 3-4 euros per ticket (boats and infrastructures cost a lot in maintenance etc.), and the city has always contributed to the transport company to keep prices down, because they are a vital service. Indeed, it would have been better if it had remained a business controlled by the city administration, but you know how these things go.

    Of course if tourism stopped dead, the tickets would not be kept so low; but on the other hand, the price of everything would drop, and the cost of life would also. In Venice the price of housing is very high due to tourism - I would be happy to have half the tourists around and a reduction of one third of the price of housing, for instance. And everything else is expensive too. So much for making us wealthier...

    So tourists in Venice bring money to selected few, and a hassle to many. I think what you detected was not hate, however. It is some sort of annoyed attitude that residents sometimes take, seeing the stream of tourists coming and going every Saturday and Sunday. That is the worst kind of "bite and leave" tourism, and is harming the most, because it does not even leave much moneys behind, but only the overexploitation of the services (you don't get into a boat because they're packed full of people), dirty roads, etcetera. A daily tax is needed to restore a reasonable service under the circumstances IMHO.

    Thanks for your answer! In some sense it confirms that the problem is not with tourism itself, but with what is made of it. Indeed, if the priority is to get money to the shops, hotels, etc., it is not surprising that normal people get all the costs and no gain. An entry fee indeed sounds to me as a fair mechanism to get the tourists pay for the services that residents benefit from, like public playing grounds for kids etc., to compensate for the hassle.
    Still, this would not cure the problem with housing costs and expensive daily life, but there is no solution for that... Well, you can try to make Venice much uglier, but then you would be less happy to have a house there ;)