Venice is one of the few remaining car-free cities in the world, but the famous canals may soon be treated more like roadways following the tragic death of a tourist earlier this month.
A German man died after the gondola he was traveling with his family in was crushed between a dock and a vaporetto, one of the city’s many waterbuses. The vaporetto, which was reversing at the time, didn’t realize anything was wrong and sailed off without a second glance.In response, the city’s mayor has announced a battery of measures aimed at controlling Venice’s chaotic waterways. The canals will soon be treated much like a street for motor vehicles, with plans to ban cell phone use while operating boats, drug and alcohol tests for drivers and more stringent rules when it comes to turning or overtaking other boats. Plans to station police officers with whistles and signs at various points along the Grand Canal are also one of the 26 measures that have been proposed by the city.
For tourists, the new rules could mean more restrictions on when and where they can take a gondola ride. Gondolas will likely be banned from the Grand Canal before mid-morning, to make room for delivery boats. Gondolas sailing from one side of the Grand Canal to the other may also be forced to cut back.
The president of the gondolier association of Venice says all boat operators in the watery city should be screened for alcohol and drugs, the BBC reports.
Nicola Falconi suggested this after a video was posted on YouTube showing a hazing incident of a new assistant gondolier who was ordered to strip naked and jump in a canal. This was just the latest of numerous reports of inappropriate, boozy behavior.
We can add this to the other scandals hitting Italy’s tourism industry, including a group of tourists being charged $84 for a few ice cream cones, dozens of baggage handlers arrested for stealing bags at several Italian airports, and the continuing decay of many of the nation’s underfunded ancient monuments.
On my recent trip to Venice, the gondoliers I saw were all behaving professionally. I have heard a few secondhand stories, however. Have you been to Italy? What was your experience there? Tell us on the comments section!
Madrid’s museums and bars are a great place to spend a trip, but if you need a quick vacation from your vacation, check out the cable cars between two of Madrid’s best parks. Known as the Teleférico, they go from Parque del Oeste to Casa De Campo, Madrid’s largest park.
Built by a Swiss company and inaugerated in 1969, the system has two sets of cables, one set for going up and the other for going down. Eighty cabins hold five people each and the route goes for 2.5 km (1.6 miles) and gets up to 40 meters (131 feet) up in the air.
I rode this for the first time yesterday with my four year-old son and needless to say he loved it. We were attending a communal birthday party for a few of his friends so the little squeaky voices kept me from having a serene ride over the treetops, but I did get splendid views of the park, the river, the Royal Palace, and the cathedral.
On the Casa del Campo side is a kids’ indoor playground, a mediocre but not too overpriced restaurant, and an outside terrace for the adults to drink a beer and look out over the trees and skyline. So if you’re looking for a fun thing to do with your kids when you’re in Madrid, give the Teleférico a try. It makes for a good getaway from the big city. If you want something more substantial, try hiking in the community of Madrid.
Photo courtesy J.L. de Diego.
We’ve covered amusement park accidents in the past. Here’s another one. In an unfortunate mishap at Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay, Florida a football player from the University of Southern Florida found his good deed costing him. Maikon Bonani was working at the gondola ride when he thought the door of one of the cars wasn’t latched as it was leaving the station.
With quick thinking he grabbed onto the door in an effort to keep it closed. Unfortunately, as the gondola of the sky ride went up into the air, so did he. Eventually, he let go and fell 35 feet. Luckily the area below was landscaped and not asphalt.
Bonani is in fair condition and it sounds as if he’ll recover–I hope. Of course, the park is reviewing safety procedures. One of the morals of this story is that if you are at an amusement park and fall 35 feet, be in good shape with well developed muscles. It does wonders for the outcome. Plus, make sure you hear that clink shut of the latch of any ride you climb into. It helps to pay attention.
As for the passengers who were riding in the gondola when Maikon Bonani fell. Can you imagine? That Busch Garden vacation turned out much differently than they ever imagined. [AP article]