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Is Venice Really Banning All Wheeled Luggage?

by Wendy Perrin | February 4, 2015


“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.”


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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1 Comment

  1. J Cheung

    What you don’t point out in your article which you should for your readers is that there are no official porters at Santa Lucia train station in Venice and warn them anout unscrupulous porters. Ask and agree on the price beforehand. We had only two 27-29” four-wheel fully rolling suitcases with us (one per person) and carried our own backpacks. That is all we had. We had taken a water taxi from our San Marco hotel to the Santa Lucia train station. As we got off the boat, the porter who was standing dockside asked if we would like porter service to the train station (which we could see from the dock as it was only 200 meters away or less). Seeing we were reluctant, he smiled a friendly smile and said, “I help you, ok?” He seemed friendly and nice enough. We figured it would be easier to have the porter take us to the train platform rather than navigate it ourselves. He took us to a side entrance (there was signage so we weren’t worried he was taking us down a back alley even though that’s what it looked like). We arrived in less than 3 minutes (walking from dock to actual train depot). We handed him a 10 euro note and asked for 5 euros change back. He instead said we owed him 15 Euros! We argued with him that we could have easily rolled our bags ourselves for that 3 min walk. (We rolled our own bags for 15 min no problem going from the VCE airport terminal to the airport’s water taxi dock just a day earlier!). We walked away telling him that was all we were paying him. He started screaming. Not wanting to create a scene, we went back and gave him another 5 euros at which point he smiled broadly and told us to watch our backpacks carefully bc of pickpockets.

    We had no other luggage, just the backpacks on our backs which we carried ourselves. Not that hard for one person to roll one bag. Tell your readers that if they arrive at Santa Lucia, there are no steps to navigate to/from the train station and water taxi area, so unless you really can’t carry your own luggage, best to skip the porters. They aren’t working for typical tips and instead try to completely scam visitors. We are seasoned travelers (100+ days at sea, fly 200-300k miles PER YEAR) yet got taken. Lesson learned for us. Always ask the price first and what it involves or just skip it.

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