Tourist fined after drone crashes in St Mark’s Square

A tourist was fined on Tuesday after his camera drone crashed into Venice’s iconic St Mark’s Square.

Tourist fined after drone crashes in St Mark’s Square
The tourist was fined after his camera drone crashed into Venice's Sat Mark's Square. Photo: Joe Shlabotnik

The man was trying to get aerial shots of the famous canal city, where drones are banned, but lost control of the mini aircraft, which happened to land close to a group of police officers patrolling the area.

Fortunately, the 2kg drone fell in an area where there were not many people and nobody was hurt.

The unmanned aircraft had been hovering over the Punta della Dogana, on the opposite side of St Mark’s Basin, before crossing the canal and crashing in St Mark’s Square.

Police were perplexed as to who owned the drone, until the tourist came forward on Tuesday and asked for it back.

The amount he was fined has not been reported, but violating Italian aviation rules is an offence potentially punishable with fines of up to €113,000.

Current guidelines say drones cannot be flown above 230 feet (70 metres) and must remain within a 490 foot (150 metre) radius of the pilot at all times.

Laws also state that drones must carry third-party insurance and that piloted aircraft must not come within 80 meters of private property. Crucially, they cannot be flown over populated areas or railways, factories and roads without obtaining prior permission from Enac.

In April, a French tourist was arrested in Rome after piloting his camera drone over the Colosseum.

Last year a pair of Israeli tourists were detained for flying their remote-controlled aircraft over the Vatican, while a Korean tourist in Milan found himself in hot water after slamming his drone into the roof of its iconic cathedral.  

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Italy to pay €57m compensation over Venice cruise ship ban

The Italian government announced on Friday it would pay 57.5 million euros in compensation to cruise companies affected by the decision to ban large ships from Venice's fragile lagoon.

A cruise ship in St Mark's Basin, Venice.
The decision to limit cruise ship access to the Venice lagoon has come at a cost. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The new rules, which took effect in August, followed years of warnings that the giant floating hotels risked causing irreparable damage to the lagoon city, a UNESCO world heritage site.

READ ALSO: Venice bans large cruise ships from centre after Unesco threat of ‘endangered’ status

Some 30 million euros has been allocated for 2021 for shipping companies who incurred costs in “rescheduling routes and refunding passengers who cancelled trips”, the infrastructure ministry said in a statement.

A further 27.5 million euros – five million this year and the rest in 2022 – was allocated for the terminal operator and related companies, it said.

The decision to ban large cruise ships from the centre of Venice in July came just days before a meeting of the UN’s cultural organisation Unesco, which had proposed adding Venice to a list of endangered heritage sites over inaction on cruise ships.

READ ALSO: Is Venice really banning cruise ships from its lagoon?

Under the government’s plan, cruise ships will not be banned from Venice altogether but the biggest vessels will no longer be able to pass through St Mark’s Basin, St Mark’s Canal or the Giudecca Canal. Instead, they’ll be diverted to the industrial port at Marghera.

But critics of the plan point out that Marghera – which is on the mainland, as opposed to the passenger terminal located in the islands – is still within the Venice lagoon.

Some aspects of the plan remain unclear, as infrastructure at Marghera is still being built. Meanwhile, smaller cruise liners are still allowed through St Mark’s and the Giudecca canals.

Cruise ships provide a huge economic boost to Venice, but activists and residents say the ships contribute to problems caused by ‘overtourism’ and cause large waves that undermine the city’s foundations and harm the fragile ecosystem of its lagoon.