Venice’s Lido beaches made into free public spaces
Giorgio Orsoni, Mayor of Venice, has signed an ordinance ending private colonisation of beaches on Venice’s Lido Littoral Island. Hotels will no longer be able to restrict entry to pass holders for the more exclusive Lido beaches, as reported on 28 June in the Venice newspaper La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre here: Venezia, la spiaggia del Lido diventa popolare Primo ombrellone davanti al Des Bains
In the early twentieth century, the international intelligentsia made Venice and its Lido beaches the centre of their social season. English author Virginia Woolf perceived Venice as “the playground of all that was gay, mysterious, and irresponsible” in the inter-war years. Since the 1970s, the Lido has only attracted members of the international cultural elite occasionally, for specific exhibitions or the film festival. Yet private beaches for elite visitors have remained off-limits for people not staying at upmarket hotels.
There have been recent attempts to revive the Lido. Significant changes and construction plans are already underway on the Lido, including a new cinema, hotels and apartments. The company Est Capital SGR has invested heavily to re-establish Lido as an upmarket vacation destination, and is restructuring the iconic Hotel Excelsior and Hotel Des Baines into luxury rooms and apartments. The company also spent €50 million to create Malamocco Bio Island, a wellness centre for the Lido. It is planning to convert a former state hospital into luxury apartments, a hotel and marina. A new publicly-funded convention centre is being built on the Lido seafront for the Venice International Film Festival and conferences.
We welcome the redevelopment of the Lido and making its beaches into free public spaces. Venice is benefiting from the growth of tourism and new facilities and infrastructure will assist this. However, we oppose the segregation of the Lido beaches between hotel customers and other members of the public. Beaches should be free spaces for public enjoyment regardless of wealth or status.