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Portofino, Avanti! Italian Village Sets "No Stopping" Zones To Keep Tourist Crowds Moving

For safety reasons, the mayor of an Italian village struggling with overtourism has banned tourists stopping in certain areas. It is not the only Italian travel hot spot trying new ideas to counter the effects of mass tourism.

A photo of Portofino, Italy

Portofino, Italy

Ginevra Falciani

PORTOFINO — In Portofino, one of Italy's best known and most visited villages, two “red zones” have been established to limit the pedestrian traffic formed by tourists. These are areas where people can walk freely, sit in a restaurant or go shopping, but where visitors cannot stop for safety reasons, as the human density has become too high.

“Portofino belongs to everyone, but it is a jewel to be respected,” explains Mayor Matteo Viacava, who signed a measure that went into effect on Easter Sunday. The small village of just 400 residents welcomed 7,000 tourists during the Easter holidays — a much higher number than was recorded in 2019.

The restrictions are in effect from 10:30am to 6pm and will last at least until next Oct. 15. Penalties for those who stop range from €65 to €275.

The small roads and piazzas in the village have limited space, which is exacerbated by the many outdoor tables of cafes and restaurants. Here, large numbers of people listen to their tour guide, wait for a boat to pick them up, or stop to take pictures.

This creates gatherings who “have become a safety issue,” says Mayor Viacava to Italian daily La Stampa.

An entry ticket to Venice

Portofino is not the only place in Italy tackling overtourism.

The Cinque Terre, a group of villages located about a hundred kilometers from Portofino, are also overwhelmed by visitors, to the point that Fabrizia Pecunia, mayor or Riomaggiore, recently called for "a special law for the Cinque Terre, and measures to regulate the flow of tourists."

In Sardinia's most famous beaches, people can only enter by buying a ticket.

From summer 2023, people will be able to visit Venice — perhaps the most glaring example of this problem — only by purchasing an entrance ticket costing 3, 8 or 10 euros per day, depending on the day of the week and the time of year. The number of available entrances will be limited and tourists will have to pass through turnstiles (like those in the subway) placed at key points in the city.

Since the tourism problem in Venice is largely caused by day tourism, a discount will be applied to those who will show proof of a hotel or Airbnb booking. It is not yet clear whether this will also be applied to those who are hosted by friends or family, while residents and commuters will obviously be excluded.

In Sardinia, tourism has been reduced in the most famous beaches, where as early as summer 2021 people can only enter by buying a ticket. The number of available spots ranges from 400 people per day for smaller beaches up to 1,500 for bigger ones.

Photo of crowds of tourists in Venice, Italy.

Crowds in Venice, Italy.

Stefano Accorsi

Towards elite tourism

To solve this problem long term, other cities are trying to entirely rebrand themselves. Amalfi, which gives the name to the world-famous Amalfi Coast in Campania, has already restricted traffic and prohibited tourist bus from stopping in or near the town and it is now preparing to become a “premium and boutique tourist destination.”

Amalfi should no longer “wait for tourists, but go out to find them and choose them,” as Destination Marketing and Destination Management expert Josep Ejarque and Mayor Daniele Milano explained.

However, the plan is not without criticism. Some fear that Italy will become a nation too dependent on elite tourism, becoming too expensive for most people, including Italians themselves.

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The Pope's Bronchitis Can't Hide What Truly Ails The Church — Or Whispers Of Succession

It is not only the health of the Pope that worries the Holy See. From the collapse of vocations to the conservative wind in the USA, there are many ills to face.

 Pope Francis reaches over to tough the hands of devotees during his  General Audience at the Vatican.​

November 29, 2023: Pope Francis during his wednesday General Audience at the Vatican.

Evandro Inetti/ZUMA
Gianluigi Nuzzi

ROME — "How am I? I'm fine... I'm still alive, you know? See, I'm not dead!"

With a dose of irony and sarcasm, Pope Francis addressed those who'd paid him a visit this past week as he battled a new lung inflammation, and the antibiotic cycles and extra rest he still must stick with on strict doctors' orders.

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The Pope is dealing with a sensitive respiratory system; the distressed tracheo-bronchial tree can cause asthmatic reactions, with the breathlessness in his speech being the most obvious symptom. Tired eyes and dark circles mark his swollen face. A sense of unease and bewilderment pervades and only diminishes when the doctors restate their optimism about his general state of wellness.

"The pope's ailments? Nothing compared to the health of the Church," quips a priest very close to the Holy Father. "The Church is much worse off, marked by chronic ailments and seasonal illnesses."

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