Venice gondolier headbutted by tourist in row over selfie

An attack on a Venetian gondolier by a tourist in a row over a selfie has led to fresh calls from exasperated locals to clamp down on overtourism in the city.

The visitor, reported to be from South America, had reportedly been taking selfies of himself and his family in a gondola tethered to a canal bank between the Rialto Bridge and St Mark's Square.

When the gondolier protested that the boat was private property and that the man and his family should get out or pay for a ride, the tourist became angry.

In video footage captured by onlookers, he headbutted and punched the gondolier, who was dressed in the distinctive straw boater and black and white striped T-shirt of his trade.

The incident was seized on by campaigners as the latest example of bad behaviour by tourists in Venice, where a population of 53,000 is swamped by more than 20 million visitors a year.

"Solidarity to the gondolier who had to endure the reaction of this tourist after he and his family climbed into a gondola to take a selfie," said Venice is Not Disneyland, a campaign group representing locals who say they are tired of the city being treated like "an amusement park".

But for Venetians concerned about the decorum of tourists, there was more indignity to come.

In the early hours of yesterday, two Czech tourists were seen swimming naked in a canal close to St Mark's Square. The Slavia Prague football fans, who were on their way to a game in Milan, were caught by officers from the Carabinieri police force.

The men were charged with offending public decency and each fined 3,000 euro.


In July, two German backpackers were fined 950 euro and expelled from Venice after they made coffee on a portable stove beneath the Rialto Bridge, spanning the Grand Canal.

Last month, two 28-year-old Norwegian women were fined after going for a swim in their underwear in the Rio di Cannaregio canal.

They were served with an Asbo-style order, under which they were told to leave Venice immediately and not return for at least two days.

Luigi Brugnaro, the mayor of Venice, has led the crackdown on bad behaviour and recently said he was considering a ban on smoking outdoors in the most popular parts of the city. He picked up the idea during a trip to Tokyo, he said.

The ban would initially be applied to the Rialto Bridge and St Mark's Square, where the biggest tourist crowds congregate, he suggested.

If introduced, it would join a long list of banned behaviour, including picnicking in piazzas, jumping into canals and wearing inappropriate clothing such as swimming shorts and bikinis.

Paola Mar, Venice's councillor for tourism, said: "Venice is unique, it's a special city and people can have fun here. But they need to understand that Venice is not a beach.

"It is an important, fragile city. So when people come to Venice, they need to know the rules."

The Telegraph, London

See also: Backpackers fined, kicked out of Venice over morning coffee

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