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Venice Fights Back

The world's most beautiful city has never been more threatened. But a passionate movement of locals is determined to keep it alive.
relates to Venice Fights Back
Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters

Venice may be putting on its party clothes for Carnival this weekend, but right now many in the city feel they have little to celebrate. Groaning under the weight of 30 million annual visitors, this most beautiful of places is suffering a degree of pressure that risks pushing it to extinction as a real city.

As visitors at levels reaching critical mass pummel the paving stones, housing for local residents is disappearing. The central city’s population has fallen to 54,000. While the winter months can be calm and even delightful, as my colleague David Dudley recently discovered, the city has still become an economic monoculture. Shops and businesses that provide services for residents instead of tourists struggle to survive; years of political corruption and what some locals see as official indifference have also taken their toll. Then, of course, there’s the gravest threat of all: the rising sea itself. But while Venice may be facing brutal obstacles, its peril is energizing local residents who are fighting tooth and nail to keep the city alive. CityLab talked to some of those activists who are fighting to keep Venice afloat.