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Big ships banned from Venice's historic centre – this time for real?

Big ships banned from Venice's historic centre – this time for real?

This news comes days before UNESCO was set to place the lagoon on its endangered sites list

At the end of March this year, the Italian Government made a pledge to ban the entering of large cruise ships into the historical centre of Venice. It was attention-grabbing yet, perhaps, a little insincere since, come June, the large vessels were seen to return to the Lagoon City.

Now comes a new announcement, made on 13 July by Prime Minister Mario Draghi, and this time it is meant to be more than just lip service. From 1 August, large cruise ships will no longer be allowed to go through the historic St. Mark’s Basin, St. Mark’s Canal or the Giudecca Canal – the wide water avenues which were used by the vessels for the purpose of bringing tourists right into the core of the city.

One might still be sceptical about this announcement, as many residents of the Serene Republic city are, but things this time around seem to be moving to a situation where words will meet action. UNESCO, the world’s cultural heritage watchdog organization, showed it meant business when it informed that it was planning to include Venice on its ‘heritage sites in danger’ list at the upcoming conference in Fuzhou (China), on 16-31 July.

Small ships, however, can still navigate into the historic centre

The ‘feet dragging’ on the issue by the Italian authorities was supposedly motivated by the fact that there is still no properly designed alternative tourist port where cruise ships could dock outside of the Lagoon. However, now it was decided that the Marghera cargo port will be repurposed to receive the tourists coming on large vessels. At least temporarily until a new port is built.

The ban on cruise ships will only apply to the largest of them weighing more than 25,000 tonnes and measuring more than 180 metres in length and 35 metres in height. Vessels which carry less than 200 passengers will still be allowed into the centre. The reasoning being that the latter are more sustainable since they cause smaller waves and fewer emissions.

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