by The Associated Press | May 02, 2018
ROME (AP) - Venice has installed temporary gates at the ends of two bridges to turn back tourists if their numbers become overwhelming. The Italian lagoon city put the measure in place for a four-day holiday weekend that ends on the country's Labor Day, May 1.
By early Saturday afternoon, municipal police officers monitoring the flow of arrivals judged the crowds manageable enough that the gates didn't need to be shut yet.
Tourists far outnumber residents in carless Venice, where the narrow streets become almost impassable during peak travel times. Crowds get especially heavy when cruise ships disembark thousands of passengers at once for day trips.
The city has struggled for decades with what to do about its dwindling population, but also lives off tourism.
As widely reported elsewhere, Unesco has threatened to put the city on its List of World Heritage in Danger, which now includes 54 destinations, mostly in war-ravaged or under-funded third-world locations.
Concerns about the impact of cruise ships, mass tourism and damage to the fragile lagoon ecosystem "have been met with empty promises but no concrete proposals," according to Italia Nostra, an Italian nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of the country's historical, artistic and environmental interests.