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Is Venice Really Banning All Wheeled Luggage?

Wendy Perrin | February 4, 2015

Question:

“I’ve heard a rumor that Venice is going to ban all roll-on suitcases starting in May 2015. Is this true? My husband and I will be visiting Venice then and hope we won’t have to carry our suitcases to our hotel or be held hostage by someone who insists on carrying them at a high cost. We travel light, but not that light.”
—Sharon

Answer:

Anyone who has flown to Venice, taken a water taxi from the airport to the stop closest to their hotel, and then wheeled their luggage—over cobbled streets and up and down stone stairs and over ancient footbridges—to their hotel knows what an obstacle course that can be, especially since some hotels are hidden down tiny alleys and hard to find. Getting lost in Venice is one of the most fun travel experiences I know, but getting lost with luggage is not.

The good news, Sharon, is that the ban on wheeled luggage is a rumor. There were reports last fall that the Venice City Council was going to ban it (for visitors, not residents) and slap travelers who break the ban with a 500 euro fine. But then Venetian authorities clarified what had been a misunderstanding: They are not planning any ban or fine after all. But the controversy points to an ongoing problem: Twenty million tourists or so visit Venice annually, and all those wheels damage ancient stones (not to mention suitcases) and create a cacophony.

“Venice presents unique logistical challenges if you have more than a backpack,” says Brian Dore, one of my Trusted Travel Experts for Italy. You should absolutely check out Brian’s Insider’s Guide to Venice. I asked him to share advice for handling luggage in Venice, and he was kind enough to lay out your options:

“1. Water taxis and porters
Water taxis wait at the airport, but keep in mind that it is a fairly long walk to the water-taxi dock. You will need a cart to put your luggage on, and then you’ll need to wheel it to the pier. The water-taxi driver will tell you the fare based upon the address of your hotel (it’s more expensive if your hotel dock is on a small side canal, as opposed to the Grand Canal) and the amount of luggage you have. If you don’t want to walk to the water-taxi pier, car taxis wait just outside the airport exit and you can go immediately to the Piazzale Roma, Venice’s frontier for cars. From here, you can hire a porter to take your bags to a water taxi and then on to your hotel. The cost of the porter service is 2.50 euro per bag.

If you’re arriving at the train station, you can take a water taxi directly from the station to your hotel.

2. Public Transportation
If you want to save on the water taxi, you can take the public water buses to the stop nearest your hotel. This is advisable only if you can carry your luggage, such as a backpack. If you have actual luggage, with our without wheels, the vaporetto operator may make you wait for the next one if the water bus is crowded, and when you do arrive at your station, you then have to navigate the confusing maze of Venetian streets to find your hotel. Doing this with luggage—even one small suitcase with wheels—is difficult, as well as hard on your luggage. It’s not recommended; it’s worth paying for a water taxi. If you are traveling in Italy with luggage but can consolidate to a backpack for your days in Venice, you might consider checking the rest of your luggage in a locker at the airport or station.

3. Private Service
When our travelers arrive at any entry point, an assistant meets them with a waiting water taxi and porters, and it is prepaid—so there’s no wandering around to find service and no worries about being overcharged along the way.”

In summary, advises Brian, “if you can’t physically carry your bags, save yourself some aggravation and pay for help. There is value in convenience.”

Brian and his wife Maria Gabriella Landers can, in fact, make everything easier and more rewarding when you travel in Italy. Here’s the best way to contact them for a trip. Check out their fabulous blog Postcards from Italy too. 

Buon viaggio!

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