Venice tourists skinny dip in canals, vandalize church

(CNN) — Summer in the northern hemisphere is heating up, travel chaos reigns, and tourists are planning to have a “revenge trip”.

And in Venice, that makes for a perfect storm of misbehaving visitors.

The past two weeks have seen a host of tourist transgressions in the city, ranging from a skinny dip in UNESCO-preserved canals to the vandalism of one of the city’s iconic churches.

On the night of May 15-16, the facade of the Redentore Church – designed by Renaissance “starchitect” Andrea Palladio, and the site of perhaps the city’s most famous festival – was vandalized.

The vandals smeared part of the facade pink.

Luigi Brugnaro

Part of the facade – built of white Istrian stone, which was part of the Venetian Empire when the church was built – was stained pink, with what looked like an equation scribbled on it.

The three square meter area is under the statue of Saint Francis of Assisi, just to the right of the entrance as you climb its famous white stone staircase.

A local who attempted to clean it would then have caused further damage by using water, which helped the color penetrate deeper into the porous stone. It is now tackled by government-employed art restorers.

It follows the vandalism of another Venice church, Sant’Antonin, which was smeared in graffiti days earlier, according to the local newspaper. La Nuova.

Meanwhile, another self-proclaimed artist poured bright blue paint on a bridge on Fondamenta dei Garzotti, one of the city’s main streets from the station. It seemed to spell the word “freedom”.

And on Thursday evening, two American tourists decided to strip naked and dive naked in a canal in the residential district of Castello.

Two American tourists went swimming in a canal.

Two American tourists went swimming in a canal.


Shocked locals watched them swim for around five minutes in the water – into which neighboring homes drain their sewage – before wiping themselves off and heading back to their Airbnb.

CCTV cameras scattered around helped solve some of the problems. The authorities have already found the person responsible for the vandalism of the Redentore Church, accompanied by two friends.

Fonda Garzotti before the vandals arrived.

Fonda Garzotti before the vandals arrived.

Lotti Fabio/Adobe Stock

They were part of a street art event that was taking place earlier in the day, according to the city council. Authorities scoured social media to see who might be the culprit and found a street artist whose signature job is creating equation-style designs.

And police are now looking for CCTV footage of the skinny divers.

Mayor Luigi Brugnaro called the vandalism a “scar” on the basilica, which he called “a symbolic place of Venetian traditions”.

“Those responsible must not go unpunished, they must pay! he wrote about Twitterasking that more powers be given to justices of the peace.
Tweeting a photo of the damage to the Rio Marin bridge, he added“It will take hours to restore at a cost we cannot yet calculate. We should keep these barbarians in a cell for at least two nights.”
“Enough of this chaos” wrote the mayor after another incident – a religious statue destroyed in Marghera, on the mainland of Venice.

“The city must be respected.”

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