When does a visit become an assault?

Translated from an article by Marco Petricca in La Nuova Venezia:

At 9am, the onslaught begins. 33,000 day cruisers begin to disembark in groups of a thousand at a pop, from 7 massive ships and 2 ferries. It’s a surge that continues uninterrupted until 5pm, when these floating cities start to sail away.

There’s not a moment’s pause in this Venetian August: thousands of vacationers head for the People Mover to transfer to Piazzale Roma, although the tram was overwhelmed yesterday with endless lines and inconvenience. The tram runs every three minutes, each car jammed full of passengers dragging suitcases and rolling bags. Those meeting them on their return drag buggies, shopping bags and water bottles.

Before 10am, the line at the People Mover station to Piazzale Roma already spans the distance between the exit of the port and the tram ticketing machine [about 1/2 mi]. Those who get fed up decide to cross the roundabout in front of the port entrance and walk instead, keeping an eye out for trucks and vans that whiz into and out of the port and dodging the snake of cars before as they arrive to undergo VTP security checks.

Definitely in the minority are those who take the sidewalk to reach Piazzale Roma. But still there are plenty and form long, single file lines along the side of the road, halting road traffic at crosswalks.

They all make their way to Piazzale Roma, hampered by barriers and contruction work, but eventually finding themselves at the foot of Calatrava bridge. At this point they accelerate their pace: smiling faces; smiling, smiling.

The mass of tourists [ignores alternate routes and] follows itself, bound intently for the center [and Piazza San Marco], so much so that the expansive riva in front of Saint Lucia station is already thronging with people.

At 11.30, lines begin to form in reverse: at Piazzale Roma and below the entrance of the tram. There’s plenty of People Mover staff available, giving directions and attempting to regulate the line. One of the three tram railway ticketing machines is broken and the line continues to grow; increasing the chaos are commuters and those who come this way because the Tronchetto bus isn’t running due to the construction in Piazzale Roma. Those arriving don’t add much to the problem, though; it’s mostly due to the large number of those who are heading in the opposite direction.

They merge with the other tourists who, numbering at least in the hundreds, come rushing out of Saint Lucia train station, heading straight for the cruise ships, via the People Mover.

At noon, the line is so long that it blocks the cars leaving the Garage San Marco, complicating the traffic trying to get into the port and the municipal garage. The trouble spreads over the entire traffiic chain: the information points, bars, tobacco shop, the kiosk of the hotels, all overwhelmed by the crowds.

• top photo courtesy Venice in Peril

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