Residents of Venice say the abrupt reduction in the number of tourists coming to the city because of the coronavirus lockdown is seeing a positive impact, with the famous canals cleaner than they have been for years.
Last year, the canals were swarming with tourists and revellers for the famous Carnival, but on February 23, authorities cancelled the festival amid coronavirus concerns.
Italy is the world’s worst-hit country after China, with 35,713 cases and a death toll of 2978 due to the global pandemic.
Since the Italian government announced a lockdown earlier this month banning all non-essential travel, silence and clean air replaced the loud noise of tourists overcrowding the narrow alleys of the lagoon city and the pollution caused by powerful engines of motorboats used by residents and workers.
Venice has been struggling with a high volume of tourism in recent years and recently banned large cruise ships from docking in the canals, in an attempt to preserve the city’s infrastructure.
But since the drastic reduction of water traffic and tourism, residents have observed the usually muddy canals run with bright, clearer water with swarms of fishes and the canal bottom clearly visible.
“There are no boats, there is no traffic. Definitely, it is cleaner,” Venice resident Serguei Michtchenko said.
However, while it may look nicer, the city’s mayor’s office told CNN that the improved water visibility does not mean the water quality improved.
“It’s because there is less boat traffic, [which] usually brings sediment to the top of the water’s surface,” a spokesperson said.
The spokesperson told CNN air quality in the city has improved due to the lockdown.
Several decades have passed since Venetians were used to swimming in the lagoon water, due to the intensified ferryboats and motorboats traffic in the canals and the increasing volume of commercial and tourist ships stopping at the Venice Passenger Terminal.
The coronavirus shutdown is the latest problem the unique lagoon city had to deal with after it was hit by its worst flooding in 50 years in November.