In the ever-constant struggle to keep Venice clean and historically preserved, the city has a laundry-list of threats to contend with. Facing vast swaths of tourists disembarking cruise ships on a daily basis, a rabid pigeon population scrabbling for crumbs, and the risk of high-tide flooding - keeping Venice afloat is no easy task. Despite the looming presence of strangely aggressive fowl, needy tourists, and wet socks, Venetians have taken on a new foe - noisy rolling suitcases.
Unlike the city streets of basically any other western metropolis', the majority of Venice is paved almost entirely in centuries-old stone slabs and cobblestone arrangements, whose surfaces when exposed to hard rubber suitcase wheels, creates an incessant cacophony of rumbling throughout the city - greatly eclipsing their apparent convenience.
A number of local shopkeepers, restaurant owners, and residents have reported feeling overwhelmed and irritated by the day-in-day-out drone of tourists dragging their suitcases behind them, and the Venice Council seems to agree, as they are planning to introduce a city-wide ban on all luggage equipped with hard rubber wheels, instead requiring travelers to use suitcases and bags with soft, air-filled wheels.
If the ban does in fact become effective early next year - as it's slated to - anyone caught with noisy, hard-rubber wheels will roll their way into a fine of up to €500 EUR. Despite the harsh monetary penalties outlined by the Venice Council, they have admitted that if the new proposal did in fact become law, it would be incredibly hard to enforce, as thousands of tourists arrive each day, and the majority of rolling-luggage marketed around the world uses resin or hard-rubber wheels.
The City's planning director, Maurizio Dorigo was quoted, "The law won't come into effect until May, so hopefully by then one or two companies might start producing trolley suitcases with air-filled wheels." The council hopes that the delayed roll-out of the proposed law will give savvy entrepreneurs the opportunity to design better luggage to prevent unnecessary noise pollution, a mildly audacious vision assuming that over the course of about 6 months, multiple companies can design, produce, market, and sell a brand new product in such a short time-frame.
But the planning director is looking at the broader implications, "The historical centres of lots of other places have the same problems as us - Rome, Florence, Siena. There needs to be a way for tourists to wheel around their luggage without making that crazy noise." In a move that further exacerbates the trifling nature of this issue; local Venetians will be exempt from the new law, free to roam the cobbled streets, noisy luggage in-tow.
In reality, a ban on loud suitcases has both positive and negative ramifications. Reducing noise pollution is always a plus, but introducing steep fines under the assumption that the entire suitcase/luggage industry can change their direction to accommodate a single-city ban is pretty ridiculous.
In the meantime, you might as well get the most of that new - resin-wheeled - Samsonite luggage you bought for top-dollar last year, and take a vacation in Venice before the threat of receiving a €500 Euro ticket becomes real in May 2015.