Tourism Trashed Venice

Christopher de Bellaigue in The Guardian about how overcrowded cities and rubbish-strewn tourist attractions are getting a reprive in the pandemic:

Were it not for tourism, much of Venice’s Gothic fabric would have crumbled or been redeveloped years ago. But while the tourism industry provided much of the economic rationale for the preservation of the city’s architecture, power was handed to investors in hotels, restaurants and boats, many of them outsiders for whom Venice was simply a business opportunity. On 15 July 1989, the global music industry commandeered the city for a free concert, the memory of which vexes Venetians even now. As many as 200,000 people from all over Europe converged that day on the Piazza San Marco, the city’s spiritual and aesthetic core, some of them packed on to boats offshore, to see Pink Floyd on the final leg of their world tour.

Panicky city councillors argued almost until the opening note of Shine on You Crazy Diamond about whether the concert should go ahead. In the end, the band agreed to lower the decibels and shorten their playlist to fit global TV schedules (Italian national broadcaster Rai did very nicely,) while shopkeepers around the square sold warm beer at triple the price to fans who discovered too late that the authorities hadn’t laid on a single toilet. The following morning, the famous old flagstones were covered by cans, cigarette butts and puddles of urine.

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