Hotels in Venice Are Giving Guests Water Guns to Scare Off a Certain Pest — Yes, Really
Seagulls have long flocked to Venice, practically becoming part of the character of Piazza San Marco and the Grand Canal. But in recent years, the birds have been becoming more of a nuisance for travelers, often trying to snatch food off of tables or even right out of their hands leaving the city's hotels have come up with a creative solution to ward them off: water guns.
Gritti Palace and Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal are now providing their guests with toy pistols in order to ward off the gulls, The Guardian reported. As an added measure, they're all orange, a color that is said to repel the birds.
Gritti Palace director Paolo Lorenzoni told the outlet that they had tried falconers, which became expensive, and also tried fake spinning owls, but pigeons ended up sitting on their heads.
"As soon as they see the pistols, they fly away," Lorenzoni said. "You don't even need to use them, you just need to keep them on the table."
According to Italian news outlet, ANSA, the seagull species in Venice are called magoghe, which are large birds with sharp beaks, who have a penchant for snatching food, no matter what it takes. Before they became the dominant bird, the city was filled with pigeons.
"The huge number of seagulls, in addition to being an aggressive and annoying presence for people, represent a problem for health and hygiene, as well as for buildings and the environment," hygiene and environment expert Francesco Boemo, told The Guardian. "They are, in fact, a protected species and cannot be eliminated, as is done, for example, with mice."
A 2018 ban on selling grain that attracted them helped reduce the population by about 50 percent, the outlet reported.
Other proposed solutions include hiring a falconer to hunt the birds or trying to ward them off with sounds or smells that can't be detected by humans. But ultimately, the water pistols seemed like the most immediate and effective way for the time being.