Venice Plans Theme Park on Toxic Waste Dump Site

Flickr/Dr. Savage

An amusement park built on the site of a toxic dump might not sound all that appealing right now, but an Italian company is hoping it will eventually become a draw card for tourists visiting Venice. The theme park is planned for an abandoned island in the city which was once home to an incinerator but may soon house roller coasters and a giant Ferris wheel, among other attractions.

The project has angered the city’s residents who are frustrated that the amusement park-like many things in Venice-caters to visitors but doesn’t do anything to enhance life for the locals. One conservationist said that the city is “always hostage to tourism.”The company behind the project, however, insists the amusement park will benefit the city. Not only will the toxic island be cleaned up ahead of construction, but the venture also will lead to the creation of at least 500 jobs. They say the project will create a better cultural experience for tourists, as a large portion of the amusement park will be dedicated to installations that depict the city’s history and the ecology of the Venetian lagoon system. The rides and attractions, they say, are necessary to pay for the cultural displays.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa Just Got a Little Bit Straighter

Flickr/Neil Howard

Pisa’s famous bell tower has just lost a little bit of its lean, according to a new report by researchers. The Italian tower, which has been tilting perilously for more than 800 years, has straightened by 2.5cm (1 inch) since 2001 thanks to a massive restoration project.

The Tower of Pisa has been leaning to one side pretty much from the beginning-the tower took nearly two centuries to build and it was obvious from the start that things were a little off kilter.

By the early 1990s, the tower was leaning nearly 18 feet, and each year, the tower was tilting more and more, with the incline increasing by more than a millimeter (0.04 inches) a year. That might not sound like much, but experts feared the building could collapse all together.It has taken engineers years to stabilize the tower, which included digging tunnels under one side of the structure to give its foundation room to shift, and attaching steel cables to the tower to keep it upright. It worked, and the tower has been straightening as predicted. In fact, engineers say that theoretically, they could straighten the tower completely. That, however, is unlikely to happen. More than 6 million people visit Pisa each year lured by the sight of the leaning tower, so while locals are happy to see the building restored, they’re not eager to see it straightened anytime soon.

Venice Tests Flood Barriers

Engineers in Venice have successfully tested a new flood barrier that they hope will protect the city. The BBC reports that the first four flood barriers of a planned 78 were floated in the entrance of the city’s famous lagoon.

Venice suffers annual floods due to unusually high tides that threaten irreplaceable buildings and a destination essential to Italy’s tourism industry. It’s also sinking at a rate of one to two millimeters a year, Discovery Magazine reports.

The barrier isn’t complete and has already cost $7 billion. It will take another $800 million and two years more work before it can protect the city. While Italy is suffering badly from the global economic crisis, the government has promised to complete the project by 2016.

Serial Killer’s Home Becomes Tourist Site

Dorothea Puente home
ilvadel, Flickr

Between the beaches, national parks, vineyards and theme parks, California has plenty of tourist draw cards, but now an unlikely attraction has made the list — the home of a serial killer.

The boarding house run by Dorothea Puente, a Sacramento woman convicted of killing her elderly residents, became a tourist attraction when the city decided to add the building to its local tour of featured and historic homes.

Although the building has undergone some updates in the three decades since the gruesome murders, visitors are still able to see the room where the killer drained the body fluids from her elderly victims.While the home of a serial killer may seem like a strange attraction to visit during a vacation, macabre tourist sites are nothing new. Here are a couple other dark attractions that visitors flock to:

Choeung Ek. More than one million people were slaughtered during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, and Choeung Ek is one of the most well known Killing Fields. Nearly 9,000 bodies are buried in mass graves here, and visitors can see a giant glass memorial filled with 5,000 human skulls.

Auschwitz. This World War II concentration camp in Poland saw the deaths of more than 1 million prisoners at the hands of the Nazis. Each year, millions of visitors pass through the gates of the memorial and museum located at the site.

Fukushima Nuclear Reactor. It’s not quite an attraction yet, but a proposal is being considered to turn this Japanese disaster site into a tourist destination. Tourists would stay in hotels designed to protect them from high levels of radiation and would be able to take photos of the reactor while dressed in protective suits and respirators.

Photo Of The Day: The ‘Real’ Bellagio

jrodmanjr, Flickr

We’re not talking about the one in Las Vegas. Today’s featured photo is again sourced from our Gadling Flickr Pool. Flickr Pool member jrodmanjr claims the center of Lake Como, Italy may be “the only place where the tourists outnumber the locals.”

We’d love to feature your photos and videos on Gadling, so please add them to our Flickr Pool (with Creative Commons licensing!), tag @GadlingTravel on Instagram or email us at OfTheDay@gadling.com.