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Venice > Planning > Top 11 tourist mistakes > #10

Top 11 Tourist Mistakes in Venice, Italy (and how to avoid them)

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anti-tourist graffiti in Venice

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

Mistake #10: Annoying the locals

Dog on ZattereOn the whole, Venetians are amazingly tolerant of the 16.5 million tourists who descend on their city of 57,000 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: The crowds can make it difficult for locals to go about their daily business. What's more, 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 an object 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. You'll also avoid paying steep fines for outlawed activities such as picnicking on the pavement or taking off your shirt.

Next page: Mistake #11: Not coming back

Top 11 Tourist Mistakes in Venice, Italy:
1. Hit-and-run visits
2. Staying in the wrong location
3. Commuting from the mainland
4. Following the crowd
5. Paying too much for transportation
6. Taking unnecessary tours
7. Overpacking
8. Buying useless souvenirs
9. Being careless with valuables
10. Annoying the locals
11. Not coming back

About the author:

Durant Imboden photo.Durant Imboden has written about Venice, Italy since 1996. He covered Venice and European travel at for 4-1/2 years before launching Europe for Visitors (including Venice for Visitors) with Cheryl Imboden in 2001.

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