Enjoying my morning coffee I opened a news feed. One of the headline news was that there is a problem of overcrowding in Venice, known in winter season for its carnival festivities. And, there is a suggestion to limit access for those tourists, who do not stay overnight in the city. Whether the news is true or not, the problem of overcrowding in a number of spots worth sightseeing or spending holidays in Europe, and on other continents, rises today to a real problem both for inhabitants and for tourists. With the market liberalisation in the skies, opening of borders, including facilitation of student exchange, and probably some other factors playing the role, tourism seems to be booming.
In Europe, there are a number of major cities like Paris, Rome or Barcelona, but also many others like historical Italian cities where day to day life already became unbearable because of tourists, no matter the season. But the congestion becomes a nuisance for the tourists themselves, too. Last Sunday I was on the Eiffel Tour >>>. A cold (around 0 degree Celsius) mid-February day, not the high season. The waiting time in the ticket & safety control zone and in the queue to the lift was around fifty minutes. The next day we were at the Louvre >>>. As we were an organised group that hired a guide we entered the museum quite quickly by the back door. But still although not in the high season the museum was on the edge of overcrowding. As most of the exhibition rooms are huge with quite good acoustics, there was a moment I caught myself at barely hearing my own thoughts. As we reached the room (or a hall) were the famous Mona Lisa is displayed my only thought was to photograph the audience.
A bit over a year ago in October 2015 I had the same experience in the Vatican Museums >>>. As the majority of exhibition rooms were smaller, there was not as much noise as in the Louvre, but still walking around was not possible in the most parts of the museum. The only way to move in the museum was to march together with the crowds.
One of the ways to avoid crowds is to get up early and reach the place before it crowds up to just contemplate the art or the place. But still with limited holiday time it is usually many spots we want to visit at one day, so it is only one that we can visit each morning. And still even when on spot in the morning, we are among those few for only half an hour or so … Or we can look for interesting places to visit that are not that popular with tourists. As the overcrowding does not consider only historical objects but also popular sea and mountain resorts, when not ready for crowds one has to be indeed very selective and make proper research in the internet before planning a trip.
The other solution is simply accept the fact and think of proper logistics like visiting a restroom ahead and carry little food and water as well as plan the day so that a part we spent in the crowds but later on we visit a less attended place to keep balance.
A way to cope with overcrowding is of course imposing some kind of limitations. I have my doubts whether a regulation limiting access to Venice only for those who stay overnight would pass. But still there are popular galleries that did so. My favourite example is the Galleria Borghese in Rome (>>>), on an absolute must see list for an art fan visiting Rome. To get there you have to apply for reservation and be strictly on time. In exchange, you can visit it for two hours being one of only two hundred visitors allowed in the same time to the building. The only disadvantage is that if taking a spontaneous trip to Rome that we decide on a week ahead or so, we would probably not get the ticket in right time.
JMA, February 2017
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