Italian lawmakers to take up Venice cruise ship problem

Danilo Toninelli. (Photo: Twitter/@DaniloToninelli)

Rome, ┬áMembers of Italy’s lower house of parliament will question Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli on the issue of large cruise ships docking in the northeast lagoon city of Venice following protests by residents.

The hearing of transport committee is slated for Wednesday afternoon and will be streamed live on the parliament’s website, the parliament said in a statement on Monday.

Venice’s port authority last week called on Europe’s most popular cruise ship destinations – Barcelona, Amsterdam, Marseille, Dubrovnik, Zeebrugge, Hamburg, Palma and Malaga – to jointly tackle the dangers posed by massive vessels.

The issue returned to the spotlight after four people were injured when the 13-deck MSC Opera crashed into tourist boat and a wharf along the busy Giudecca canal in early June.

Several weeks later, the 12-deck Costa Deliziosa cruise liner narrowly missed colliding with a yacht during a storm.

The incidents have revived mass protests by Venetians against big ships and calls from residents to ban them from the Venice lagoon altogether.

After the Venice harbour crash on June 2, Toninelli said the government was in favour of stopping big ships docking the centre of Venice.

“Today’s accident at the port of Venice shows that big ships should no longer pass through the Giudecca,” he tweeted. “After so many years of inertia, we are finally close to a definitive solution to protect both the lagoon and tourism.”