Venice’s mayor had offered dinner to anyone who could locate those ‘making a mockery of the city’
Footage of the pair gliding along the iconic waterways on motorised foil surfboards has been shared widely on social media, drawing anger from residents.
Accusing the surfers of making “a mockery of the city”, burgemeester Luigi Brugnaro effectively launched a hunt for the pair, offering dinner to anyone who could help locate them.
“I ask everyone to help us identify them to punish them even if our weapons are really blunt,” Mr Brugnaro said, adding that his office urgently required more powers to uphold public safety.
Several hours later, he announced that the surfers had been identified and their boards, reportedly worth some €25,000 (£21,000), confiscated.
Police identified them as two Australians on holiday in the city, local newspaper La Nuova Venezia reported on Thursday morning. They were each fined €1,500.
City authorities have also reportedly pushed for the tourists to be fined for damage to the city’s image, terwyl die Corriere del Veneto newspaper reports that they could face a criminal sanction for jeopardising safety on the Grand Canal.
Several clips and images of the surfers were shared on Wednesday by a group of residents promoting responsible tourism in the city, named Venice is Not Disneyland, which asked: “How is it possible to even think of certain things?”
While some residents were critical, lamenting that locals were “losing our city”, others were more forgiving, with one pointing out the vehicles appeared less polluting than motor boats.
Another joked that all Venetians should be permitted to travel around the city in the same fashion to avoid giving money to the city’s public transport authority.
Venice has long suffered from over-tourism, and with it lapses in decorum by visitors.
The city fined two German travellers hundreds of Euros in 2019 for making coffee on the 430-year-old Rialto Bridge.
Visitors also are prohibited from eating on the steps of monuments and swimming in the canals – with Mr Brugnaro calling last week for one Scottish tourist caught doing the latter to face 10 days in prison, Volgens Die voog.
From next year, day-trippers will have to pay a visitor’s tax to help offset the elevated costs of providing services in the canal city.
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