License Plates for Gondola

A year after a tourist died in a collision between a gondola and one of Venice’s ubiquitous water buses, gondolas in the lagoon city are being fitted with number plates.

The registration plates will enable Venetian au­thorities to easily identify any gondola involved in a collision or other infraction on the congested ca­nals of the World Heritage city. Venice’s 433 gondola license holders must affix the small metal number plates to the side of their distinctive, sleek black craft.

The initiative is part of a range of measures to improve safety after Joachim Vogel, 50, a German tourist, died after the gondola he was riding in with his family was crushed by a “vaporetto” water bus in August last year.

Gondoliers now have to submit to random drug-testing after Venice council received a series of complaints about the boatmen’s allegedly un­ruly behavior.

“We’ll continue in our commitment to legality and also to present an image to the world of gon­doliers and gondolas which lives up to their tradi­tion,” said Aldo Reato, the president of the gondoliers’ association.

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