Venice’s famously-polluted canals clear as tourists stay away due to COVID-19

Like all Italians, Venetians have spent recent days in lockdown, mostly confined to their homes as Italy reels from the coronavirus pandemic.

But for residents of the world-famous city — built around a network of canals — there has been a slither of a silver lining: the water in Venice’s famously congested waterways is the cleanest it has been for years.

On the Facebook page, Venicia Pulita, residents have shared videos and images of the canals, free of the thousands of tourist boats that usually ply the waterways on a daily basis.

Once upon a time, residents of Venice would swim in the lagoon waters, but the onset of mass tourism and the corresponding increase in boat traffic in recent decades has made it rare.

A report from the European Parliament in February 2019 described the levels of both air and water pollution in Venice “worrying”, blaming unregulated boats with diesel marine engines.

The poster of the footage, Marco Capovilla, explained that the lack of traffic on the canal was a major reason for the clear water, although tides also play a role.

On Sunday, Italy reported its biggest day-to-day increase in infections – 3,590 more cases in a 24-hour period – for a total of almost 24,747.

A total of 368 more deaths brought its toll to 1,809, more than a quarter of the global death toll.


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