The Scaremongering of Banning Wheelie Luggage Bags In Venice, Italy
Imagine a Venice where gondolas didn't rule the canals, but tourist bags floated like hovercrafts on a never ending water conveyor belt. Each person could have a hand held control to manoeuvre their bag like a remote controlled airplane that the kids adore. Or, a luggage bag that resembled a bouncing ball and each person could walk along the historic pebbled bridges and laneways just patting their suitcase beside them as if involved in a long distance "dribble". One would hope that it didn't bounce off into oblivion and end up floating in the canal, becoming a hazard to the hovercraft suitcases. Maybe even take the existing wheelie bag one step further and make it with retractable hard wheels, whereupon pushing up and down of the handle acts as an air pump to blow up little plastic wheels that quietly whisper over the prized pathways.
It is an endless scenario for creative luggage designers of the future to create bags that are friendly to the historic city's endangered paved thoroughfares and its inhabitants, numbering in the vicinity of 60,000 permanents, who are apparently awoken in the wee hours of the mornings because of the constant loud noise of reverberating luggage wheels. Hordes of tourists flock to gaze in awe at the ancient architecture and its art treasures, not to mention its numerous cafes where tourists can sit and watch the passing parade whether it is on foot or on one of the many busy and industrious canals where boats lazily glide loaded with passengers or goods. So it is a question of whether they are biting the hand that feeds it if the ban on wheelie luggage bags becomes a reality.
Described as one of the world's most romantic cities, "The Floating City" has been named as the most beautiful city built by man. Now it is not only facing the detrimental effects of rising canal waters, but there is the impending destruction of its precious marble steps, stone pathways and foot bridges by the relentless army of wheeled suitcases being dragged by tourists through its car-less streets. It is somewhat of a mammoth ask to reshape the way people get their luggage from A to B, unless they are of the young backpacker variety who have the strength and the stamina to lug their worldly wardrobe on their backs. Given that over 22 million tourists annually make the pilgrimage to this World Heritage listed city commonly referred to as "City of Masks" or "City of Water", it is now a city relying on its international tourism appeal.
A decision to ban bags on wheels throughout the old town of Venice with hefty fines if found to be using one, is now a moot point, as the Venice City Officials were howled down once publication of this proposal became widespread. Officials quickly recanted the fine issue which was due to come into effect in May 2015 and stated that it was aimed at the traders and their long wooden carts that have been a feature in Venice for as long as the canals have been in existence. The new noise regulations are as a result of residents complaining about "serious discomfort" upon their sleep being disturbed by bothersome loud clattering wheels in the wee hours of the mornings. So, is the proposed legislation an attempt to curb destruction of their beautiful cobblestones or to appease the sleepy Venetian dwellers?
The panic that ensued amongst proposed travellers to Venice with their invasion of wheelie bags, can now be put to rest, for the moment at least. Maybe the Venice City Officials could just implement a widespread tourist levy for any person who deigns to tread upon their precious cobblestones? Or are the Officials attempting to help the unemployed Venetians by the creation of a new career field: that of "Sherpa for Hire" to carry your luggage upon arrival. Put it this way, you are talking about Italy, which is a bit like Thailand, in that rules are made not to be enforced in any event.