Venice's canals could become motorboat free (Dreamstime)

Venice bans motorboats from iconic canals

15th April 2013

Yesterday saw the city's canals motorboat-free for the first time ever, in an attempt to stop the city crumbling

The one-day ban, which lasted from 10am until 3pm, was an attempt to highlight the city's environmental problems. Banning motorised vessels from Venice's canals is part of a larger attempt to halt the eroding and sinking of the world-famous city. Man-powered gondolas were immune from the ban.

A representative from Italia Nostra, an association working to preserve the city, said: “We hope it'll make Venetians more aware of how lovely the city could be if we insist on boats only with electric power.”

Campaigners believe that two-stroke marine engines, which produce large volumes of fumes, are the cause of some of Venice's problems. The acid from this pollution is thought to be speeding up the erosion of the city's medieval structures. These structures are also reportedly slowly sinking into the lagoons, something worsened by the large number of vessels moving around the canals, causing constant currents and waves lapping at the buildings' foundations.

Currently, there are around 7,000 small craft registered to traverse Venice's waterways. Eventually, officials would like to see a switch to electric-powered or man-powered vessels.

What do you think? Would electric vessels and man-powered gondolas make for a more peaceful (and protective) atmosphere? Or would Venice lose some of its charm? Post your comments below.

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 Your Comments (3)

  • 15th April by skitalica

    Weekend bans sound good, however all the essential city services are carried out by motorboats. Maybe it would be better off, in which case it would have to become an open-air museum.

    More on that and life in Venice:’s-venice-looking-back-at-my-expat-life-in-italy/

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  • 15th April by SuziR

    From a conservation and tourist's perspective, 'no motorboats' is definitely the way forward. But how do you do this when, as Deia pointed out, the residents (and the tourists!) rely on motorboats for rubbish disposal, deliveries and emergency services? Timed access? Incentives to switch to electric boats (there's something wrong with electric boats in water)? Helicopter drops for deliveries?

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  • 17th April by vjjg

    Anything that can be done to protect the city must be done. Venice would be more charming not less. Were electric vehicles impractical for emergency vehicles (speed of response?) they could possibly be exempt

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