With its spectacular waterways, incredible infrastructure and enchanting atmosphere, Venice has been a magnet for tourists for centuries but in recent years, the city has been under increased strain from its popularity. Now two people are striving to make the Venetian tourism experience authentic and positive again.
Venezia Autentica are on a mission to provide all the information a sustainable and responsible traveller will need if they want to experience one of Italy’s top destinations while contributing to the local community in a positive way. They provide information with tips on local food, unique craft and design shops and suggestions for getting off the beaten track and away from the crowds.
As well as information, the company can also connect you with a local if you’d like to hire their services for catering, music performance, location spotting or photography and video services. As well as seeing a side of the city often hidden from tourists, you’ll be putting money back into the local economy; a complaint that many local workers have about the huge influx of cruise ship tourists in recent years.
The pair behind it, Valeria Duflot and Sebastian Fagarazzi, acknowledge the seriousness of Venice’s situation. They told Lonely Planet that “if things continue the way they are and nothing changes, we’re not very optimistic for the city. With the local population shrinking every day, especially the youth, we fear that there is no other possible future for Venice than one of a Venetian-less theme park for adults.”
Despite this, they believe the city can change its course and they want to play a role in that. “We’re choosing to be positive and to create a way we can all push for change by supporting directly the local population. We want to believe the future of Venice is where Venetians can stay in their city and enjoy the quality of life that only Venice can offer in harmony with tourism which positively impacts the city and their lives. It also gives every visitor a greater and more rewarding experience.”
How to travel sustainably in Venice and around the world
With over-tourism becoming a concern in many hotspots around the world, we asked Valeria and Sebastian for their top tips for sustainable travel both in Venice and abroad.
- The choice of transportation you make is important; always try to take the bus or train instead of flying or taking a cruise. This way you’ll cut your carbon footprint by at least a factor of three to seven times. Once your destination is reached, walking or using a bicycle or a rowing boat, when it is allowed, is a great way to explore.
- Avoid day tripping and all-in-one offers which tend not to bring any contribution to the local community you’re visiting. Stay a few nights in the city you’re visiting and chose a registered hotel or apartment which complies with the local laws. You will still be here when the day trippers will be gone which, believe us, in the case of Venice makes a huge difference.
- Venice is an old and fragile city so special rules apply, for example, skateboards, bicycles, rollerblades and any vehicle you can think of are strictly forbidden in the city. Jumping and swimming in the canals is also forbidden. There are beautiful beaches in the lagoon, however, where you are more than welcome to do so. The Lido is very easy to reach by vaporetto.
- Immerse yourself and contribute as much as you can to the local economy by supporting local businesses, shopping from local artists and artisans and eating and drinking where the locals do. If you have a budget, like most of us do, chose quality over quantity.
- Read up before you reach your destination and step off the beaten path when you’re there. It will give much more depth to your travel and make your experience much more rewarding and remarkable while relieving the crowded areas.
- Don’t forget to explore the islands of the lagoon, Murano, Burano but also all the other ones that you can reach by vaporetto. They all have their own history and importance.
- Smile, say hi, please and bye to the people you meet. Make local friends and enjoy your travel knowing that you were, even temporarily, a positive member of the local community!