On August 4th, the 930-passenger cruise ship Viking Sea docked in Italy’s Venetian Lagoon. At first glance, it looked like a familiar landscape. Towering white ships sail past centuries-old buildings and narrow canals. Most of them were tourists from North America.But this time the destination was not Venicebut Chioggia is a little-known little city built on other islands about 15 miles apart, in the same lagoon.
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Following a series of protests from environmental groups last year, the Italian government recently began enforcing a ban on large cruise ships weighing over 40,000 tons from the San Marco Basin, part of the lagoon surrounding Venice’s historic center. Originally approved in 2012, the ban was conditional. itinerary It should be close enough so that tourists can actually take excursions to Venice.
“If we take Venice, the whole Adriatic route will die,” said Francesco Galietti, national director of the Cruise Lines International Association. It took him nine years to upgrade other nearby ports to host cruises, with Italian authorities allocating €157 million (about $159.7 million).
Most of them went to Trieste, a city in northeastern Italy. Venetian Lagoon, about 72 miles away, while others went to Marghera, a commercial port on mainland Venice. About a dozen people have moved to Chioggia and will double his number next year, said mayor Mauro Almerao proudly.
For Chioggia, everything taken away from Venice has a flavor of redemption for the weak.
For centuries, the town, often called Little Venice, has been a name that has infuriated locals who argue that it is Venice that should be described as the greater Chioggia, in the shadow of its more famous neighbor. lived in When Venice was a shipping powerhouse from the 10th century to her 17th century, Chioggia came under its rule, leading to an imbalance of power whose legacy can still be felt today. A working-class town traditionally dependent on fishing and farming, it is famous for both radicchio and beets, which have long provided workers for the wealthy. VeniceEven today, many vaporetto conductors and hotel staff commute from Chioggia.
Looking down on locals is part of Venetian folklore. The Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni famously portrayed them as quarrelsome, good-hearted and simple-minded, quarreling for petty reasons.
authentic and a little rough
But Chioggiotti takes great pride in being ‘authentic’ as opposed to Venetian sophistication. Every year in early August, a local theater troupe brings Carlo Goldoni’s play “Baruffe Chiozzotte” to the streets, and tickets sell out quickly. Venetians mock Chioggia, calling the lion, the symbol of the city, “El Gato”, the same cat as the lion, the symbol of Venice. Chioggia recently acquired a majestic life-size bronze statue of a lion from sculptor Davide Rivalta, saying it was done “so that people could finally be sure it wasn’t a cat.” the mayor said.
And unlike Venice, which suffers from overtourism, Chioggia enjoys more tourists. “We are very honored to have so many people come. We can hear people speaking English on the street, but we were not used to it,” said a teacher at a local high school. Alessia Boscolo Nata said. Teresa Beremo, who is from Chioggia and works in Milan’s publishing industry, joked, “We were children of a little god in the lagoon, but now we are not.”
Not just pride. The arrival of cruise ships fits in with the overall growth in tourism that Chioggia has experienced in the last five years. This trend has also helped revitalize the city’s historic center and seems to have found the right balance.
Chioggia is not new to tourism. But once he was confined to two satellite cities, Isola Verde and Sottomarina, and relied on family-friendly beach holidays. The city’s main island, with its fish market, 17th-century cathedral and medieval clock tower, was overlooked. tourist.
But in the last few years, a new kind of tourist has started to emerge. local hotel association. It had a positive effect, driving urban renewal popular with millennials and his Gen Z Chioggiotti.
“Just five years ago, everything was so tired and boring that there was nothing for young people to do,” says 39-year-old Bellemo.
This renaissance is best embodied by the flourishing of cicchetterie, typical bars serving wine and fish-based finger food on the Riva Vena, the central canal. Mattia Perini, who runs one of them, Bacaro Altrove, says half of his customers are tourists and half are regulars. I have critical his mass to maintain this place and maintain the community. “
Diego Ardison, who runs one of the oldest bacari, Cichetteria da Niño Fissolo, says it took years of work to make the canal more vibrant and is finally paying off. Told.
The bed and breakfast springs up in the old center. And they seem to have a positive effect, at least for now. said.
But many people in Chioggia find themselves walking on a fine line. sightseeing The booms that are helping to revitalize cities can get worse if not controlled.
Mayor Almerao said he could follow Venice’s example if the number of vacation rentals increased too much. Venice recently obtained permission from the Italian central government to cap rentals. House.
A dozen bed and breakfast operators have founded Vacanza in Calle, a group aimed at self-regulating for ethical tourism. Not as intruders, but as locals do,” said one manager, Giorgia Santatera.
Cruises are also a sensitive issue. The No Big Ships Committee, an environmental group that organized an anti-cruise movement in Venice, fully wants a cruise out of the Venetian lagoon. ecosystem, therefore, against the rerouting of ships to Marghera and Chioggia, both inside the lagoon. A grassroots group recently organized a new protest in Marghera, part of Venice, but not in Chioggia because it is outside its jurisdiction.
There is no visible opposition to cruises in Chioggia, partly because the city enjoys economic benefits and partly because ships coming here are less concerned about their environmental impact. The average cruise ship is scheduled at about 3,000 Chioggia and all ship passengers she less than 1,000.
However, some residents are cautious. “Let’s see how this evolves,” she said Bellemo. “For the time being, we’ve found a good balance, but when people start chasing too much easy money, it’s not going to stay that way.”
This article was originally published in The New York Times.
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