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Mistake 10: Annoying the locals

From: Top 11 Tourist Mistakes

anti-tourist graffiti in Venice

ABOVE: Anti-tourist graffiti on a Venetian wall. TOP INSET: Before sitting on a bollard, check for dogs.

Dog on ZattereOn the whole, Venetians are amazingly tolerant of the 16.5 million tourists who descend on their city of 60,000 inhabitants every year. We've seen locals wait patiently for tourists to finish taking photos on bridges, and visitors who ask for directions usually get help (even if it's just a wave of the hand and a polite "sempre dritto" or "straight ahead").

group blocking bridge on ZattereStill, there are times when the natives (usually older ladies) can appear surly, and it's easy to understand why: Too many tourists are thoughtless or clueless when they're away from home, or they lack the urban skills to coexist with other people in crowded settings. Typical annoying behaviors include:

  • stupid tourist tricksBlocking bridges by sitting and drinking or eating on the steps. (Would the offenders sit down on Fifth Avenue or the Champs-Élysées and have a picnic? Would they lounge in a London crosswalk and expect traffic to go around them?)

  • Posing for snapshots or videos on crowded bridges, or in busy streets, while the photographer fiddles with the camera and pedestrian traffic backs up.

  • Walking three or four abreast down narrow calli and lurching to a stop when a member of the group sees something of interest in a shop window.

  • Waiting until they're at the head of the gelato stand's line to see what flavors are available, or asking for a translation of the ingredients menu at a busy take-out pizza window.

  • Entering the exit side of a vaporetto platform to avoid the boarding queue.

  • Arguing with the clerk at the Internet point who asks for a passport or driver's license, as required by Italy's anti-terrorism and child-pornography laws.

  • man with pigeons and dildoBeing intentionally stupid like the young man at right, who lay down with a friend in the Piazza San Marco and used crumbs to attract pigeons while he  posed for snapshots with a dildo protruding from his jeans.

Our advice: In a compact and often crowded city like Venice, being sensitive to  other people--especially in busy tourist areas--will make life more pleasant for locals and visitors alike.

Next page: Mistake #11: Not coming back


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