Romantic Venetian reputation tarnished by drunken gondoliers

Saturday, July 6th, 2013. Filed under: Destinations World News
Gondoliers in Venice could face random drug and alcohol tests after the city received a series of complaints of booze-fueled antics. ©Alessandro Colle/

Gondoliers in Venice could face random drug and alcohol tests after the city received a series of complaints of booze-fueled antics.
©Alessandro Colle/

(Relaxnews) – You could call it a case of drinking and paddling. Venetian gondoliers may have to take breathalyzer tests after the city received a series of complaints about their unruly, drunken behavior, including a booze-fueled incident in which a man stripped naked and jumped into the Grand Canal.

The move is being proposed by the gondoliers association following a ‘hazing’ incident that was captured on camera and posted on YouTube. It’s since been taken down.

In the video, which was shown to city councilors last week, an aspiring assistant is told to take off his clothes and jump into the lagoon near St. Mark’s Square, reports Italian wire service ANSA.

Outraged councilors called for the immediate suspension of the gondoliers involved, pointing out that they serve as the face of Venice for many international tourists and risk tarnishing the city’s image when displaying brutish, drunken behavior.

The hazing victim was applying to become a ‘ganser,’ explains ANSA, a gondolier’s assistant who helps passengers in and out of the gondola.

While he defended the gondoliers saying that no one forced the aspiring ganser to carry out the hazing ritual, Nicola Falconi is proposing that gondoliers and fellow transport operators undergo regular and random drug and alcohol tests.

It’s not the first time gondoliers have faced criticism for their conduct. Earlier this year an Italian consumer group lambasted dishonest gondoliers who fleece tourists with above-market rates and called for unscrupulous perpetrators be stripped of their licenses.

Paris has also suffered bad rap in recent months, after a group of Chinese tourists were robbed as soon as they arrived, and following a riot that broke out near the Eiffel Tower after the city’s soccer team won the French League championship.

The city has tightened security measures to fight against the rise in pickpocketing, armed theft and muggings which have tarnished its image on the international stage.


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