Over the past few years, many famed and popular tourist destinations have become under threat of disappearing. Enhanced climate change and increasing numbers of tourists have caused sites such as the Taj Mahal in India and the Dead Sea to deteriorate. It is estimated that, over the next few decades, many sites will disappear, posing the question of whether we should leave them alone in hopes of rejuvenation or make the most of the time we have left.
In the case of Venice, the famous city in the North-East of Italy, the voyage is still worth it. Venice is well known for its links to culture. Whether it is an art fix from the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, historic festivals with the annual carnival or literature on the famous Rialto Bridge, Venice provides ample opportunities to satisfy any tourist. If this wasn’t enough, then the novelties of all the canals and cuisine still draw in literal boatloads of tourists each year.
However, this is where the issue lies. This beautiful city, once known for its wealth and high culture, is now recognised as a crowd hub, where Instagram tourism is a popular pastime all year round. Often accused of being over-hyped, Venice has long been a luxury tourist destination and its popularity has only increased over the past decades. Yet this comes at a price, as scientists have hypothesised that, by the end of this century, the city could be entirely underwater.
Humans, specifically tourists, are not helping
The sinking of Venice is due to rising sea levels. The marshland it was built on is compacting underneath, lowering the city into the sea. Humans, specifically tourists, are not helping. Due to a high number of boats and planes, the accessibility of Venice is increasing along with its touristic carbon footprint. The boom of tourism that occurred after the city was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 1987 has ultimately been its downfall. This raises some questions: is it irresponsible to visit Venice? Is it ethically right to travel to vulnerable touristic sites and will this be worth it, through the crowds?
I argue, yes. Having lived for a year in the neighbouring city of Padova, I learnt that there is much more to Venice than the travel guides tell you. Firstly, Venice is not just a ‘day city’. Many tourists fall into the trap of staying in Venice for only a day, only dropping into the city to avoid high hotel prices. However, if you can hold off getting your train back so early, seeing the sunset across the ocean from the famous St Mark’s Square is one of the most beautiful sights the city offers. Also, despite the fact the city boasts to have no clubs, it doesn’t mean there is no nightlife. Casual drinking of wine, music concerts and even silent discos in the street all occur once the sun goes down.
you can sit, relax and stare across the water, hardly seeing another tourist at all
During the day, you can also find a new side of Venice. Despite the main tourist attractions being popular for a reason, making them still worth the visit, there are other areas of Venice still left to explore. Across the Accademia Bridge, where the Peggy Guggenheim museum resides, is a section of Venice more peaceful than the rest. If you continue across to the water’s edge, there are alcoves where you can sit, relax and stare across the water, hardly seeing another tourist at all. If you continue round, you are also able to see across to St Mark’s Square, viewing the whole scene with a fresh perspective.
Moving to the great Italian cuisine, few people know of the local Venetian food ‘Cicchetti’. These small dishes, often seafood based, are like a Venetian-style tapas, great for a lunch or quick bite to eat, and a perfect break from overpriced pizza. Overall, the city is not just filled with streams of tourists if you don’t want it to be. Like every famous destination, the top attractions aren’t the only reason people visit the place. Some go to see the actual city itself.
However, go sustainably. In order to combat Venice’s volume of tourists, restrictions on boats and tourist vehicles have come into place. It was also recently published that a new tax for ‘tourist visiting’ would be enforced in the city, in order to regulate visitor volumes. To ensure the preservation of this city, be aware of the ramifications tourism may have. Don’t feed into tourist packages at the expense of the city. Instead, visit it like a local would do, by taking the train in, trying out places off the beaten track and spreading your adventures across the city, not just in its central hubs. This experience will be ten times better than following the worn-out path of every tourist before you.