In Giovanni Bonazzon’s paintings, Venice is a vision of serenity. Bridges arch gracefully over rippling canals, sunlight bounces off flower-filled balconies, and not a single human mars the tranquility.
Bonazzon’s daily vista is not as tranquil, however. An artist who paints and sells watercolors from an easel set up near San Marco Square, he has a ringside seat to the selfie-posing, ice-cream-licking hordes who roil their way daily toward the Doge’s Palace, and he readily agrees that tourism is killing his hometown.
Yet when he heard that Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro had, in the run-up to a busy weekend at the beginning of May, installed checkpoints intended to block arriving visitors from especially crowded thoroughfares (while allowing locals through), Bonazzon was dismayed. “Yes, they should control the tourists,” he says. “But they shouldn’t close Venice. We’re a city, not a theme park.”