Tourist-Centric Venice Loses Population

As floods increase and the tourist-focus of the city pervades, Venice, Italy is losing much of its charm -- and its native population.

Venetians are increasingly fed up with the "theme park" version of their city that is more interested in appeasing foreign tourists than meeting local needs. Many locals are moving out.

"This is the Venice of Chinese markets, gambling dens and fast food stands. Ship terminals are being excavated, and there are plans to build a metro to the new city airport and an offshore port. Everything is in fast motion, and everything is geared toward mass processing and profit. At its gateway, the city seems artificial, a fairground with old walls. Entry is still free.

"Welcome to Veniceland!" a clown shouts. People dressed in rat suits unfold Disney-esque city maps and tout the attractions. "Here you can surf the wakes of the cruise ships in the 'Tsunami Channel' and race up to the bell tower on a roller coaster at the 'St. Marks Fun Camp.' Shop to your heart's content at 'Little Shanghai,' the former Murano glassblowers' island. Be there live when police officers beat up handbag sellers from Africa. A show starts every hour. And visit the last real Venetians -- on the San Michele cemetery island.""

Full Story: An Italian Idyll Fights for Its Very Survival

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