Or is that good news? Why should all vendors be required to replace their wheels? Will that have any real impact on noise pollution in Venice? Is it really just another tax on the too-few residents of Venice? I'm pretty sure most of the noise does come from luggage after all… Lots of it probably comes from my luggage which, I'll admit, could use a new set of wheels!
Either way, it's surprising how much attention this initiative got. The world believed that a city that wanted to call in the military to help with crowd control in 2014 would, by May of 2015, have the manpower to catch and fine tourists for luggage violations? (Someone is attempting to scale the walls of the Miracoli Church, but let me just bend down and check your wheels...) I doubt it. However sad it is to admit, it's hard to believe that such a law could be enforced in Venice. My honest first reaction to this news was a good hearty laugh and I shared it on the OG Venice Facebook page expecting the same reaction.
Was I ever wrong! It wasn't funny at all. The fans of OG Venice on Facebook - people who, similar to myself, are either in Venice or planning their next trip to Venice - were deeply offended. This initiative was seen as yet another hurdle placed in the path of long-term visitors, those who use accommodations on the islands, in favor of day-trippers and cruise passengers who have no need to carry luggage. It might, had it turned out to be true, have even been the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back for some devoted Venetophiles. Some pondered whether they would just stay in Mestre and "commute" in the future.
Others pointed out the difference in spending habits between those who use local accommodations vs. day-trippers. Maybe they wondered what logic could lie behind a regulation that alienates a demographic of tourists who, though fewer in numbers, spend much more money in Venetian-owned businesses and artisan shops in Venice. Wouldn't that be harmful to all concerned? Does Venice even have enough official residents left to support essential local businesses if the overnight visitors thin out? How many sales does it take to generate enough revenues to keep a salumeria open? How many again to keep an artisan's hands busy? OG Venice readers seem to think that there is a mutually beneficial relationship that exists between resident-visitors and Venetians that does not necessarily exist between Venetians and those who visit just for the day.
These are heavy wonderings for OG Venice, coming as they do between our holiday posts, and inspired as they were by something that really does seem quite laughable: "World Scrambles to Replace Luggage at Command of Venice City Counsel!" "Retailers Brace for Unexpected Holiday Rush on Duffle Bags!" "BMW & Bose Team up on First Noise-Cancelling Suitcase!"
Meanwhile, I'm sure that all of our hearts go out to all of the Venetians who, it now appears, are the real targets of the noise-reduction initiative.