Venice is studying a new proposal for reducing the impact of the colossal cruise ships that enter its lagoon on a daily basis - the construction of an artificial terminal island in the Adriatic.
Cruise ship passengers would disembark on the man-made, 940-metre jetty and board a fleet of catamarans to ferry them into Venice. Each catamaran would be able to take about 800 passengers, with the transfer to Venice's historic centre taking less than an hour.
The proposed solution would allow passengers to experience the thrill of entering the lagoon by boat, but would satisfy the complaints of Venetians who say that the cruise ships are an eyesore, dwarfing the city's bell towers and palazzi as they lumber into dock.
Critics also say the cruise ships pollute Venice and exacerbate the erosion of its fragile foundations as they pass within a few hundred yards of St Mark's Square and along the narrow Giudecca Canal to the existing cruise ship terminal.
But the cruise industry earns Venice millions of pounds a year and supporters say it is vital for the city's economy.
The industry is in favour of dredging a new channel in the lagoon, known as the Contorta-Sant'Angelo, which would enable ships to access the existing cruise ship terminal without sailing so close to Venice. But the artificial jetty, which would cost about €128 million, would dispense with the need for the channel, which environmentalists oppose on the grounds that it would upset the ecosystem of the lagoon.
Up to five big cruise ships could dock at the proposed new terminal, which would be built on an artificial island at the mouth of the northernmost of three inlets that connect the lagoon to the Adriatic.
Duferco Engineering, the Italian company behind the idea, said the island would take about two years to build. It hoped for a decision from the Italian government within the next two months.
The Daily Telegraph