What It’s Like to Visit Venice in the Wake of the Pandemic — No Crowds, Police Presence

For the first time ever, I can’t wait to go back to Italy.

The view from Rialto Bridge.

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Now, the big question: did I enjoy the visit?

Yes, I did. There really is no credible challenge to Venice’s claim to being Europe’s most beautiful city. For me, however, it has traditionally also been one of the most deeply uncomfortable places to visit on the continent, largely down to the widely reported issues of overcrowding.

Earlier this year, it was reported that officials in the “floating city” are readying two strategies to curb overcrowding. First, the introduction of a tourist “reservation” system where visitors to the city pay an entrance fee in an attempt to curb overcrowding. And secondly, the deployment of armed guards to patrol key tourist hubs to keep crowds under control, which I have briefly outlined above.

To me, both of these suggestions are undesirable. The increased presence of armed officers has obvious and deeply concerning carceral implications, and any entrance fee to the city would effectively act as a tax on visiting one of Europe’s most culturally enriching locations. But what became clear to me during my trip is that whatever magic Venice has to offer can only be absorbed when one isn’t trapped in a scrum of camera-wielding tourists. 

More police and entrance fee: bad.

Less crowding: good.  

What’s the middle ground here? I’m not sure but I hope the city of Venice can figure it out. 

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