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Venice gondolas to get 'car lights'

2013-11-07 08:45

GET OUT OF THE WAY! New rules for boats riding through Venice's famous canals are being implemented following a crash between a gondola and a ferry in August 2013. Image: AFP

Where cities around the world have roads picturesque Venice has canals but waterborne traffic problems are much the same. Now the flooded city is trying to instil some serious boating rules.

VENICE, Italy - Venice has imposed new rules for boats riding through its famous canals after a collision on the Grand Canal between a gondola and a ferry in August 2013 in which a German tourist was killed.

Residents of the island city were angry about long queues caused by the reduction in the number of ferries going along the Grand Canal - an attempt to thin out the frequently clogged waterway.


A rise in water level due to winds and currents added to the confusion on Monday by flooding some parts of the city in a yearly phenomenon known as "acqua alta" (high water). Samuele Costantini, a spokesman for Venice mayor Giorgio Orsoni said: "The implementation of the transport security plan is gradual. It began today and will continue in coming weeks."

Gondolas were also due to have been fitted with number plates and car-style reflectors to improve visibility but none of the dozens of wooden boats moored at St Mark's Square appeared to have them.The stripe-shirted, boater-hatted gondoliers - a powerful lobby in the city and a draw for tourists - had already won an exemption from a rule to carry GPS locators, arguing that their low speed would have rendered the technology useless.

Two gondoliers and three pilots of the city's "vaporetto" ferries have been placed under investigation over the death of Joachim Vogel, a German professor who was enjoying a gondola ride with his family when a ferry plied into them.

The incident stoked traditional tensions between the vaporetto operators and the gondoliers who blamed each other for the crash and prompted city officials to take action to limit water traffic. Before the new rules, traffic along the Grand Canal averaged at around 3000 boats a day.

The waterway is lined with palazzi built between the 13th and 18th centuries and its bustle and grandeur are an iconic image that have inspired poets and artists for centuries.

Read more on:    italy  |  venice  |  traffic laws  |  travel

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