Venetians in their thousands have taken to the streets to protest over frequent flooding in the city and the impact of giant cruise ships.
Around 2,000 to 3,0000 people answered the call of environmental groups and No Grande Navi (No Big Ships), a collective opposed to mega cruise vessels, which called for “a great mobilization” on Sunday (local time).
In an announcement posted online, the collective called for a moratorium on the multi-billion-dollar Mose project, which has been underway since 2003 to protect the city from flooding; the resignation of Mayor Luigi Brugnaro; a ban on large ships, and climate justice.
“Venice has become, these days, a world symbol of the effects of climate change (which is not an excuse for incapable politicians, but is the challenge of the present) and of the dramatic results of its combination with a development model based on great works,” No Grande Navi writes.
According to Agence France-Presse, protesters chanted slogans such as “Venice resist”, and appealed for the city’s massive and long-delayed flood barrier project, Mose, to be cancelled amid corruption scandals that have reportedly dogged it from the outset.
Protesters braved bad weather over the weekend, as Sunday saw yet another acqua alta high-water event, with water levels above 130 centimetres (more than four feet).
There have been long-standing protests against cruise ships in Venice, and the impacts of overtourism on the city, which have prompted renewed calls from industry and members of the public for vessels to be rerouted from the Guidecca Canal.
In August, Italy’s Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Danilo Toninelli said he had set up a working group to look at alternative solutions for cruise ships currently using Guidecca Canal.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) maintains that the proposal to utilise the Vittorio Emanuele Canal is “the best and most prudent means to move larger cruise ships away from the Giudecca”.
However, stopping cruise ships from docking in Venice’s historic city centre would have a limited impact and move overtourism to new areas instead, according to one expert.
The protests follow unprecedented flooding in Venice that devastated some of its best-known attractions, countless homes and businesses.
A few days later, Venice’s Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square) was closed on account of the floods after a third acqua alta high-tide event occurred, with water levels above 150 centimetres, but has since reopened.
The flood marked the third time since last week’s 1.87-metre flood that tides have reached more than 1.5 metres high – a level that had never been reached even twice in one year, let alone three times in one week, since records began in 1872, the Associated Press reported.