By Anne Leader
The fight to stop large cruise ships from entering the Venetian lagoon ramped up in late July 2014 with calls from museum professionals and celebrities to ban “grandi navi” (large ships) from Venice. A petition demanding to “halt the passage of the big ships across the Bacino San Marino and along the Giudecca canal” included signatures from over fifty arts professionals, architects, actors, and fashion designers. They and their fellow petitioners urged Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the Italian Minister of Culture and Tourism Dario Franceschini to take action.
Various international newspapers reported Friday that the protests seem to have had an effect. A ban first enacted by the Venetian Port Authority on ships over 96,000 tons has been reinstated by the Italian government. Starting in 2015, the ban will extend to ships over 40,000 tons. Smaller ships will be severely restricted from entering the area between the Giudecca and Piazza San Marco. The government’s proposal seeks to find an alternative route for the big ships and has consequently generated protest from environmentalists and residents. As government officials seek to find a balance between tourism and conservation, many Venetians and international admirers of the city continue to fight against the grandi navi.