Lonely Planet Writer

Should Venice be added to Unesco’s endangered World Heritage list?

In the aftermath of a cruise ship crashing into the docks of the Giudecca canal in Venice, the city’s mayor has urged Unesco to place the city on its World Heritage site blacklist.

A cruise ship crossing the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy
A cruise ship crossing the Grand Canal in Venice. Images: Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Locals protested on the streets in the wake of the incident, which injured four people. Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has criticised the Italian transport minister, Danilo Toninelli, for failing to endorse a plan agreed by the country’s previous administration to divert cruise ships from the busy canal. Speaking to Radio 24, Brugnaro revealed that his office will write to Unesco to ask for the city to be put on the blacklist, as they feel it is “in danger.”

Grand Canal and Basilica Santa Maria della Salute in Venice. Image by Iakov Kalinin/Shutterstock

The city has been given a deadline of 2021 by Unesco to undertake measures to protect Venice’s monuments and preserve its fragile environment. It threatened the city with being put on its endangered World Heritage list, but extended the deadline from its original date of 2017 as it felt improvements were being made in managing the tourism flow. Minister Toninelli has stressed the need to balance tourism with environmentalism, while the city works on a solution to the issue of diverting cruise ships.

Venice was voted fourth-most elegant city in a study. Image: _ultraforma_/Getty Images

Brugnaro is critical of Toninelli’s delay in delivering a new plan to prevent the giant ships entering the central canals. The minister still has the matter under consideration and has suggested putting various options to a referendum on his party’s website. These include building a new cruise terminal at Lido San Nicolò or at Chioggia, which is located south of Venice.

A cruise ship in Venice with smaller boats.
Cruise ships have been attracting negative attraction in Venice for the last few years. Photo by Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

If the Unesco blacklist measure was to be invoked, it would significantly restrict entry into the city. The measure is reserved for sights under significant danger.