The Venice, Italy that is known internationally is full of historically intricate buildings, gondola rides, and a maze of narrow canals stretching across the city. Meandering around the small streets and over the hundreds of pedestrian bridges exemplifies the charm of the Italian area. What people know of the Venice captured in photos and seen in movies and television can be considered as one of the most unique and stunning cities in the world. But what locals understand all too well is that their beloved city is disappearing before their eyes.
Global warming is one of the most spoken about topics related to the environmental field. Temperatures around the world have been rising, including in the atmosphere and in the ocean. Global warming is on the rise because of harmful human actions causing the increase in temperature. Global warming has led to a number of problems, including heightened sea levels. Residents of Venice know all too well how detrimental rising waters can be to their daily lives.
Situated on top of water, the rise and fall of the canals have been part of Venetian history. Centuries of Venetians have had to live through the “acqua alta”, Italian for high water. For over 1,500 years, people have had to protect their homes, stores, restaurants, and themselves, from the unfortunate instances when their city becomes flooded. Over time and with experience, Venetians have raised their buildings higher to avoid the flooding water levels, and people have learned how to better protect their businesses. Although this phenomenon has been going on for generations, the floods have become more frequent and more severe over the past 60 years. Venice’s most well know square, Piazza San Marco, has not been spared from the reoccurring rising floods, and neither has most spots in Venice. A combination of Venice’s natural location surrounded by water and the powerful effects of global warming has led to a city partially submerged at times. The disappearing Venice can be seen on water lines that trace across the antiquated buildings, a subtle reminder of how easily the Italian destination can succumb to Mother Nature’s force.
A disappearing Venice can also be seen in the faces of the Venetian residents. That is, those who are left. Locals in the area have been moving out of their cherished city because of the overpowering amounts of tourists traveling into town. The beauty and distinctiveness of Venice draws in millions of visitors a year. Their tourism footprint often damages the natural charm of the city.
Regarded as a magnificent art city, tourists from all over the world come to Venice to experience the rich history seen throughout the town. Venice relies heavily on the tourism industry. Over 100,000 people visit Venice each day during the peak season of summer. A majority of the businesses and restaurants, specifically in the center of the city, cater to the needs of international tourists. Although there are a large amount of hotels to choose from, many visitors don’t always stay the night. Taking tour buses from neighboring areas, visitors have the option of seeing Venice for the day and leaving. Because so many locals depend on the tourism business to generate income, it becomes a problem when tourists come but don’t always spend money in hotels. The heavy amount of people in and out of the city has taken a toll on the area, because with crowds comes an increase in littering and pollution. The quaint streets of Venice have become overcrowded and unfortunately, historical monuments have been damaged.
The Venice known by locals is quickly slipping away underneath the water and through the hands of the tourism industry. Many who stay work in the business, but it is not the type of work for everyone. Approximately 1,500 local Venetians end up leaving Venice a year, significantly decreasing the population. What gives a city its character and personality is the flavor of the residents. Without the authentic lifestyle of Venetians, Venice is quickly becoming a town run by tourists, as opposed to lived in by its residents. A combination of global warming and an overbearing impact of the tourism industry has shaped the Venice of today.
Photo credit: cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/photo_gallery/it/images/IT_025.jpg