Over the weekend, canal city Venice welcomed back swathes of tourists who gathered at some of the most popular attractions in the municipality as the city began to return to a new kind of normal following the coronavirus lockdown. Britons are among those who are now allowed to visit the city, as well as the rest of Italy after the country’s travel ban lifted earlier this month.
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According to local media hundreds of tourists queued for more than 300 meters at Saint Mark’s Square after approximately one thousand tickets were sold for the reopening day.
“There were people queuing at 8:00 am this morning and, to be honest, it’s just what we were hoping for,’ Maria Cristina Gribaudi, president of the Venice Civic Museums Foundation told euronews.
“It’s a very strong emotion, like the first day of school.”
Shops and restaurants also reopened their doors and began to resume service.
Meanwhile, famed gondola rides, often enjoyed by tourists, now have strict rules for those who want to climb aboard.
Both passengers and gondoliers will now wear protective masks and gloves.
Gondolas will also only be allowed to carry a maximum of six people onboard at one time.
Across the piers, markings set out one metre spaces to ensure social distancing is maintained.
Though the new rules may take some getting used to, Giovanni Giusto, the city’s councillor for traditions, applauded the return of the much-loved boats.
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He explained that the gondolas serve as a vital link for the city’s mobility.
“It is good news, a signal of everyone’s desire to start again in order to return to normal as soon as possible, without ever lowering the guard to be able to definitively defeat the virus,” he said.
However, amid the joy of the return to life in Venice, there is also some debate about promoting a new, more sustainable form of tourism.
Speaking to euronews, Gabriella Belli, the director of the Venice Civic Museums Foundation said: “We hope to have slow tourism in the future. This does not mean less tourism, but better, better organisation.”
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Venice was due to implement its controversial tourist tax this summer but has since decided to place the new protocol on hold until 2021.
The fee should have become practise on July 1, but now won’t come to fruition until April 1, 2021.
Visitors will be required to buy a stamp, each a different colours depending on the day and time of season they are visiting.
Entry will cost three, five, six, or eight euros depending on the sticker allocated.
Though Italy is welcoming back tourists from the EU and the UK, Britons are still unable to travel for tourism under the current FCO advisory.
The FCO continues to warn Britons not to travel unless it is absolutely essential.
There is a glimmer of hope ahead, however, as the FCO now states: “This advice is being kept under constant review.”
It is not yet known when, or if, it will be lifted before the end of summer.
However, once holidays are given the green light, at the moment Italy is not requiring Britons to self-isolate upon arrival.
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