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Ships will have to dock at the city's industrial port until an alternative is decided on.

By Alison Fox
April 02, 2021
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The Italian city of Venice officially banned cruise ships from the historic center this week, according to reports, the latest move in a years-long effort to force the large ships out of the beloved city.

On Wednesday, Italian ministers approved a ban that would bar large cruise ships and container ships from entering the city's Giudecca canal, which leads to St. Mark's Square, the BBC reported. Going forward, these ships will have to dock at the city's industrial port while officials consider alternative locations.

Italy's culture minister told the BBC the decision was made after a request by UNESCO.

"Anyone who has visited Venice in recent years has been shocked to see these ships, hundreds of metres long and as tall as apartment buildings, passing through such fragile places," Culture Minister Dario Franceschini told Reuters on Thursday.

Venice
Credit: Massimo Insabato/Archivio Massimo Insabato/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

The ban is something the city has pursued for years as Venice combats overtourism, first announcing its intentions in 2013 to ban ships weighing more than 96,000 tonnes before that was overturned. In 2017, the city again announced its plans before trying yet again in 2019, the same year a cruise ship collided with a dock and tourist boat, injuring four people.

The absence of large ships and hordes of tourists, as well as lessened boat traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic in general, cleared up the famed canals and led to better air quality. Earlier this month, a pair of striped dolphins were even spotted before officials worked to direct them back to the sea.

Currently, the city — along with much of the rest of Italy — remains on lockdown. Venice is in the "red zone," where non-essential stores have been forced to close and residents are only allowed to leave home for work or health reasons.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.