Cultural icons including Sir Mick Jagger demand Italian authorities protect Venice


Celebrities from the worlds of film, art and music have written an open letter to the Italian government calling for Venice to be protected as tourists begin to return. 

Sir Mick Jagger, Tilda Swinton and others implored politicians to prevent the historic city from turning into ‘a theme park like Disneyland’ by failing to regulate tourism following the pandemic. 

‘Venice is showing her suffering and we, citizens of the world, cannot remain insensitive,’ the letter reads.

‘We ask that you preserve not just the immense artistic heritage but also the life of the city, which confers a soul on the stones and paintings.’

The 21 signatories, including directors Francis Ford Coppola and Wes Anderson, have presented a list of 10 issues they argue must be addressed to protect The City of Bridges’ ‘physical and cultural identity’.

Venice, with its iconic canals and basilicas, has long attracted tourists from around the world but in recent decades, visitor numbers and the arrival of cruise ships have begun to strain the site.

Venice, with its iconic canals and basilicas, has long attracted tourists from around the world but in recent decades, visitor numbers and the arrival of enormous cruise ships (pictured) have begun to strain the site

Venice, with its iconic canals and basilicas, has long attracted tourists from around the world but in recent decades, visitor numbers and the arrival of enormous cruise ships (pictured) have begun to strain the site 

Celebrities from the worlds of film, art and music have written an open letter to the Italian government calling for Venice to be protected as tourists begin to return [Stock image]

Celebrities from the worlds of film, art and music have written an open letter to the Italian government calling for Venice to be protected as tourists begin to return [Stock image]

Celebrities from the worlds of film, art and music have written an open letter to the Italian government calling for Venice to be protected as tourists begin to return [Stock image]

The 21 signatories have presented a list of 10 issues they argue must be addressed to protect Venice's 'physical and cultural identity'

The 21 signatories have presented a list of 10 issues they argue must be addressed to protect Venice's 'physical and cultural identity'

The 21 signatories have presented a list of 10 issues they argue must be addressed to protect Venice’s ‘physical and cultural identity’

Rising sea levels and a shrinking population – at its lowest levels since the 1950s – are also of concern.

Many Venetians rely on tourism to make a living while acknowledging that the huge numbers of visitors – some 25million a year before the pandemic – has changed the character of the city and threatens to make it unliveable.

The stars are imploring Italian officials to provide affordable housing for Venetians, ban cruise liners from the lagoon and adopt much stricter regulation of tourist numbers.

They suggest a ‘management system based on the example of big museums like the Louvre, where groups can enter only if they have a booking.’

Signatories have also urged the government to complete the Moses flood protection barrier – a multi-billion-euro project that has so far stretched on for 17 years – and to crack down on apartments being rented out through Airbnb and other sites aimed at tourists.

The letter was addressed to Prime Minister Mario Draghi as well as Italy’s ministers of tourism and culture and the mayor of Venice. 

Sir Mick Jagger and others implored politicians to prevent the historic city from turning into 'a theme park like Disneyland' by failing to regulate tourism following the pandemic [File photo]

Sir Mick Jagger and others implored politicians to prevent the historic city from turning into 'a theme park like Disneyland' by failing to regulate tourism following the pandemic [File photo]

Tilda Swinton and other stars are imploring Italian officials to provide affordable housing for Venetians, ban cruise liners from the lagoon and adopt much stricter regulation of tourist numbers [File photo]

Tilda Swinton and other stars are imploring Italian officials to provide affordable housing for Venetians, ban cruise liners from the lagoon and adopt much stricter regulation of tourist numbers [File photo]

Sir Mick Jagger (left), Tilda Swinton (right) and others called on politicians to prevent the historic city from turning into ‘a theme park like Disneyland’ by failing to regulate tourism following the pandemic. The stars are imploring Italian officials to provide affordable housing for Venetians, ban cruise liners from the lagoon and adopt much stricter regulation of tourist numbers.

Directors Francis Ford Coppola (pictured) and Wes Anderson are among the signatories of the letter which comes as tourists begin slowly returning to the city [File photo]

Directors Francis Ford Coppola (pictured) and Wes Anderson are among the signatories of the letter which comes as tourists begin slowly returning to the city [File photo]

Directors Francis Ford Coppola (pictured) and Wes Anderson are among the signatories of the letter which comes as tourists begin slowly returning to the city [File photo]

A cruise ship collided with a small tourist boat along one of Venice's canals in June 2019, injuring four tourists

A cruise ship collided with a small tourist boat along one of Venice's canals in June 2019, injuring four tourists

A cruise ship collided with a small tourist boat along one of Venice’s canals in June 2019, injuring four tourists 

It comes as tourists begin slowly returning to the city. Some hotels are already 70 per cent full and the first of the season’s cruise ships is scheduled to dock on Saturday. 

The MSC Orchestra is due to be met by Venetian protesters. In 2019, the same ship crashed into a wharf and a river boat on the Giudecca Canal, Corriere della Serra reported.

Italy’s government indicated in March a willingness to ban liners in the Giudecca Canal, but the letter urges they go further.

‘Big cruise ships must be definitively banned not only from St Mark’s Basin and the Giudecca Canal but in the whole lagoon,’ it reads. 

The letter was produced by NGO Venetian Heritage, whose director Toto Bergamo Rossi defended the letter’s wealthy signatories against accusations of meddling in the city’s affairs.

‘Venice is Italy’s only international city. Its heritage belongs to the world. The people who signed the letter are not just a collection of well-known names.

‘They are really involved with the city and several are on the board of our foundation,’ he told The Telegraph. 

‘Like many Venetians, they want a city that is better than it was before the pandemic. It was total anarchy before. But we now have an opportunity, before mass tourism returns, to change things. 

‘Every year we are less and less and Venice becomes more and more fake. If we don’t act now, it will be like Disneyland – only a Third World version, without the organisation of Disneyland.’

The letter was produced by NGO Venetian Heritage, whose director Toto Bergamo Rossi defended the letter's wealthy signatories against accusations of meddling in the city's affairs

The letter was produced by NGO Venetian Heritage, whose director Toto Bergamo Rossi defended the letter's wealthy signatories against accusations of meddling in the city's affairs

The letter was produced by NGO Venetian Heritage, whose director Toto Bergamo Rossi defended the letter’s wealthy signatories against accusations of meddling in the city’s affairs

Italy's government indicated in March a willingness to ban liners in the Giudecca Canal, but the letter urges they go further. 'Big cruise ships must be definitively banned not only from St Mark's Basin and the Giudecca Canal but in the whole lagoon,' it reads

Italy's government indicated in March a willingness to ban liners in the Giudecca Canal, but the letter urges they go further. 'Big cruise ships must be definitively banned not only from St Mark's Basin and the Giudecca Canal but in the whole lagoon,' it reads

Italy’s government indicated in March a willingness to ban liners in the Giudecca Canal, but the letter urges they go further. ‘Big cruise ships must be definitively banned not only from St Mark’s Basin and the Giudecca Canal but in the whole lagoon,’ it reads



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