An Israeli tourist is facing kidnapping charges after he allegedly held an employee hostage at a change bureau in Venice following a dispute over exchange rates. The 46-year-old was reportedly unhappy with the amount in euros he received in exchange for $100.
The man attempted to cancel the exchange at the agency, which is near the Rialto Bridge, before proceeding to close the shutters to prevent the woman from leaving her booth. The woman was reportedly trapped for half an hour. She was able to call the police who promptly arrested the man. According to sources, the woman was “dismayed and frightened.”
This isn’t the first time that there have been reports of tourists behaving badly in Venice. In September, a gondolier was headbutted and punched in the face by a South American man after a disagreement over a selfie. The tourist, who boarded the docked gondola in order to take a selfie with his family, became aggressive after the gondolier told him to either leave the boat or pay for a ride.
Venetian authorities have been imposing stiffer penalties on delinquent tourists lately to counteract what they perceive as an increase in uncouth behavior by people visiting the city. Recently, two Czech visitors were fined €3,000 for “obscene acts” when they were discovered skinny-dipping in a canal close to St Mark’s Square.
And in June, two German tourists were fined €1,000 and asked to immediately abandon the city after being caught using a camping stove to prepare coffee on the Rialto Bridge, the oldest of the four bridges across the Grand Canal in Venice, which dates back to 1591. The German couple was charged with violating the city’s “urban decorum” rules, which prohibit eating or snacking on bridges and the steps of monuments and swimming or dipping your feet in the canals.
The urban decorum laws, which have become increasingly common in historic Italian cities, were implemented in 2017 to encourage tourists to behave appropriately and put an end to antisocial conduct. The #EnjoyRespectVenezia campaign was launched by Paola Mar, the councilor for tourism, and punishes activities such as littering, sightseeing in swimwear and pausing too long on bridges.
"The message we have to get through is that we're not joking," Paola told local newspaper La Nuova. "If it means that people who do this kind of thing are fined, as well as it being flagged to their respective embassies, perhaps we'll be able to stop others copying."