While the local population dwindles, passengers from giant cruise ships continue to flood into La Serenissima. So how are locals trying to save the city?
A monster cruise ship meets a giant octopus and crashes into the Rialto bridge, provoking a tsunami. It’s an apocalyptic vision of Venice. The message of Stop the Madness, Philip Colbert’s pop-art-with-a-purpose at the current Venice Biennale, is echoed by Lorenzo Quinn’s Support, a large-scale installation of giant hands reaching out of the Grand Canal to prop up the crumbling Palazzo Sagredo.
Venice’s mayor Luigi Brugnaro could also do with a helping hand. Under-populated and over-touristed, Venice is facing threats from all sides. Its status as a world heritage site is slowly sinking, with Unesco threatening to slap the city on its in-danger list, a fate normally reserved for war-ravaged ruins, under-funded third world sites and, er, Liverpool. Unesco’s concerns about cruise ships, mass tourism and damage to the fragile lagoon ecosystem “have been met with empty promises but no concrete proposals”, according to Italia Nostra, the country’s influential heritage body.