At nine in the morning in the Rialto market, in Venice, all one can hear are Venetians shopping for freshly caught fish, seagulls spiraling above the old arches, church bells ringing, and a few boats passing through the Grand Canal. I came here from Milan after three months of lockdown, initially planning to spend 15 days in a rental apartment with a home office and a terrace overlooking the rooftops near the Frari. The idea was to take advantage of a novel opportunity to enjoy Venice as its residents once did, without sharing it with the rest of the world.
In pandemic-free years, around 20 million tourists walk the city’s calli and campi, most of them from abroad; there are usually far too many day-trippers disgorging from the giant cruise ships that dwarf the harbor. These travelers sustain the economy, but they also increase costs and stress on the city, which has led Venice, known as La Serenissima, to become a symbol of over-tourism at its worst.