Some gondoliers in Venice, Italy, have claimed that “overweight” tourists are creating a boatload of trouble, forcing them to cut passenger capacity for safety’s sake, according to Fox News.
In a recent policy change, Venetian boatmen will have to reduce passenger seating from six to five on the smaller gondola da nolo, The Guardian reported. Accommodations on the larger gondola da parade, often used to sail the Grand Canal, have also been axed from 14 to 12.
“It’s true that compared to 10 or 15 years ago, tourists weigh a bit more,” says Andrea Balbi, president of Venice’s gondoliers’ association.
“Unlike in a lift, where there’s a message that says ‘only six people or a maximum weight’, we don’t have scales to weigh people, and so we reduced the number of passengers.”
“If there is too much weight on the gondola, water will flood the vessel and sinking is dangerous,” Raoul Roveratto, president of the association of substitute gondoliers, explains.
“Tourists are now overweight, and those arriving from certain countries are bombs,” Roveratto told La Repubblica, per a translation from the Daily Mail.
In related nautical news, another policy was recently passed to allow the children of the city’s gondoliers to take over their parent’s licences without taking a challenging theory exam on history and foreign languages, according to The Guardian.
Now, rookie gondoliers must prove they can row the boat and have at least four years of experience operating their family’s gondola.
Though anyone can apply for the job, the seafaring trade is mostly kept insular within the Floating City’s gondolier families.
“It is about continuing a tradition. Who better than a gondolier can know the trade of a gondolier?” Balbi said of the family ties.
“It would be like a pizza maker who isn’t from Naples.”