Venice gondolas return to Grand Canal

Venice (AFP) –


Venice's gondolas glided across the Grand Canal once more Monday as Italy's lockdown eased, taking the odd local from one side to the other as they wait for tourists to return.

Wearing not only their famous blue and white stripped t-shirts but also gloves and masks, the gondoliers helped passengers climb into the boats, where tape had been used to mark the social distancing spaces people must keep on board.

"It's good news, a sign of everyone's desire to get back to normal as soon as possible, but without ever lowering our guard in order to defeat the virus once and for all," said Giovanni Giusto, city councilor for the Protection of Traditions.

Workers in sanitary suits could be seen spraying the boarding areas with disinfectant before people clambered aboard, shelling out two euros to be taken across the canal rather than walking down to the nearest bridge.

The gondolas serve in particular the Rialto fish market and the popular Dorsoduro area. Six passengers can board at a time.

The smaller, often ornate gondolas traditionally used to ferry tourists around the northern Italian city are expected to return to the water on June 3, when people from the European Union will once more be allowed into the country.