Is it just me or do you think Venice’s €5 entry fee is a bridge too far?
Because the very idea of charging to be allowed into any city feels anti-libertarian.
Yes, we all know the arguments… over-tourism, the city sinking, but is economic selectionism really the answer?
Make no mistake here, Venice truly is one of the world’s great cities.
And I was entranced from the moment I emerged from the throng off the train into its alleyways in the early Noughties.
City’s hidden delights
Now to put this into context… I’m just a city boy, born and raised in Jordanhill (apols to Journey).
And I love the energy and life Venice brings.
Like everyone else I have taken in the must-sees St Mark’s Square, the Bridge of Sighs, the Rialto Bridge and the Campanile.
And why wouldn’t you?
But I also spent our first evening exploring the Arsenale and went onto branching out from the packed centre.
While I also sailed out to the island of Murano, where glass-makers ply their trade just like their forebears did centuries ago.
Neighbouring Burano is known for its brightly coloured fishermen houses which acted as a beacon, and its lace traders.
And I also took in the Isola di San Michele where Venezians buried their dead.
In The Ghetto
But it is the Ghetto in Cannaregio which really captured my attention.
The Ghetto is where the city’s Jews were kept out of the city
And it was here (the foundry area) where the Doge Leonardo Loredan and the Venetian Senate sentenced the Jews to live.
They were only allowed to enter the city at certain hours.
Rules, rules, rules
Now there is no suggestion Deputy Mayor for Tourism Simone Venturini is motivated to exclude any of us for anything other than over-tourism reasons.
‘The aim is to discourage one-day tourism, hit-and-run tourism,’ he explained.
‘Arriving in one day and leaving in the same day, tiring and stressing the city, and encouraging slower tourism instead.’
And to debunk a myth there won’t be turnstiles, you’ll book ahead online.
Watch your back
But still how will entry to the city be manned and how do they plan to control congestion at the entry point?
I’m worried here, and have been for some time, that the ’emergency’ restrictions foisted on us all over Covid will persist as we emerge out of the pandemic.
Because isn’t that just the way of our leaders.
And as I often try to remind people wasn’t Income Tax brought in as a temporary charge to cope with the Napoleonic Wars.
All of which neatly brings us around to the man who ended the restrictions for the inhabitants of the world’s first ghetto, Napoleon Bonaparte.
You know the bespoke ones they sell throughout the city’s alleyway souvenir shops.
But Venice’s €5 entry fee is a bridge too far.
So what do you think? Let us know and we’ll share.