“We searched for four years,” he says. “We wanted to stay downtown. My family lives there, and we know everyone.” But they could not find a home, even in the months when there was not a single tourist in Venice. “We were always told we could stay in an apartment for a few months, until everything was back to normal.”
Last summer, the family decided to move to Murano, an island located at the top of the lake. “We’ve adapted now. It’s not far, but we have to take the boat for everything. Because one of my kids is in a wheelchair, it’s not a good fit.”
Ready to restart
Da Ponte has found the situation very distressing, because there has been endless talk of more sustainable tourism during the lockdown. “We have had discussions with the municipality and residents. Several plans have been launched.” Last May, the city council submitted a document containing the “Ten Commandments”: plans to prepare the city for restart. Among these was the downsizing of services such as Airbnb.
“This document was a question directed to the government,” explains Tourism Board member Simon Venturini. “Cities like Amsterdam and Paris have been able to restrict Airbnb. But in Italy we can’t do anything without a national law.”
However, an alderman has another plan: a reservation system so that the number of tourists can be limited. From 2022 he wants to put gates on access roads to the city. “The more we balance the rights of residents and the tourism sector, the more people will want to live in places that are now bypassed.”
Giovanni da Ponte sees it differently. “These fences make tourists feel like they’re in a museum, not a real city. It’s the opposite of what we want to achieve.”
He understands that solving the housing problem is not easy. “If it was simple, we would have found it already.” However, he hopes the stalemate will soon be over, with the city council pointing to Rome and vice versa.
“You don’t ask if they give you money, you don’t want to go to the moon. Just a house in the city you were born in. It’s no longer a staple here, but a privilege.”
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