The scene seemed like something out of a fiction movie. The colossal Opera cruise, of the company MSC, lost control in the channel of the Giudecca and crashed against the dock at high speed. On the way, it hit the River Countess, a river-type tourist boat with more than 110 people on board. Everything was in a fright, with four tourists hospitalized by falls and bruises, but who has seen the images, with the cruise siren rumbling in front of the historic center, wonders how it could be that the consequences were not worse.
The Venetians they are fed up with the cruise ships. The incident last Sunday is for them only confirmation in the form of a viral video that what they have been asking for years must be a reality already. Yesterday, thousands of people demonstrated in the historic streets of Venice and arrived before the Plaza de San Marcos, convened by the No Grandes Naves Committee. "Outside the lagoon cruises," they shouted in unison. "These giants must leave the lagoon. Are incompatible with the balance of the ecosystem, in addition to being dangerous ", declared Gianfranco Bettin, president of the municipality of Marghera, a fraction of the City of Venice.
The reasons why cruises threaten the fragility of Venice They are clear. Beyond the devastating image of the ships emerging over the historic center, the serious environmental consequences weigh on the delicate ecosystem of the lagoon. The submarine wave caused by each ship wears the foundations of the buildings of the city. In addition, in the Serenissima every year 68 large ships dock almost 8,000 hours in the port with the engines on, emitting 27,520 kilos of sulfur oxide.
There are houses 100 meters from the port in a city of scarcely 53,000 inhabitants, as the tourist emergency has caused thousands of people to leave Venice at the feeling that each day is more like a theme park. In 2017, 18,000 Venetians urged in a referendum to leave the cruise ships. On the other hand, some say that you can not harm an industry that each year generates more than 400 million euros for Italy and 4,000 permanent jobs, according to a study commissioned in 2018 by the Italian division of the International Association of Cruise Companies. .
Venetians believe that these colossi are incompatible with the fragile ecosystem and the city's heritage
The confrontation is clear, but after more than seven years there is still no solution. The debate is at this point in the place where these ships should move. The Venetian lagoon is connected to the Adriatic by three mouths: Lido, Malamocco and Chioggia. Right now, oil tankers and chemicals dock at Porto Marghera, on the mainland, through Malamocco. The cruises follow their route through Lido and cross the entire Giudecca channel to the Tronchetto pass, passing in front of San Marcos square.
The plan accepted by the City Council is that the cruise ships make the same route as the oil tankers to Marghera port, avoiding their passage to the center, but for that it would be necessary to drain the canal and adapt the port, a work that would need about 19 months and 120 million euros. In contrast, associations against cruises they claim that they dock at the lagoon's entrance points and that they move to the passageway (this is the case in other cities of the world) by other means. This seems to be the favorite choice of the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, Danilo Toninelli, of the 5 Star Movement, while the other party in the Executive, the League, prefers to enlarge the existing channel. Again, tensions in the government threaten to delay the decision.
The biggest fears in Venice awakened after the wreck of Costa Concordia, in January 2012 before the Tuscan island of Giglio. Since then we have been thinking about the effects that such an accident could cause in Venice. Enzo Dalle Mese, an engineer who has studied the Costa Concordia, opts for the most restrictive regulation. "We must ask ourselves how many lives can be sacrificed in exchange for a few million a year. And how much damage can the artistic heritage accept? My answer is: none, "said Quotidiano Nazionale. After the scare of last week, the Venetians believe that there are no excuses or bureaucratic delays worth.