Venice gondola capsizes after tourists refuse to sit down and stop taking selfies

A group of tourists fell into a murky, cold canal in Venice when the gondola in which they were travelling capsized after they failed to heed an order to stop taking selfies and sit down.

The gondolier, who had been attempting a tricky manoeuvre as he navigated the vessel under a bridge close to the area of St Mark’s Square, also ended up in the water before scrambling to rescue his passengers.

According to reports in the local press, the group from China had been shifting around the gondola and taking selfies against the backdrop of the lagoon city’s famous sites when the incident, which was captured on video and shared widely online, happened.

The gondolier’s manoeuvre under the bridge required the maximum balance of weight onboard, but the passengers reportedly ignored his orders to sit down and instead continued to stand up and take photos, thus tipping the boat over.

A post on the Instagram page of Venezia Non è Disneyland (Venice Is Not Disneyland), an account set up by young Venetians to chronicle the mishaps of tourists in the city, said the group was brought to safety and provided with “hospitality and warmth” in the nearby La Fenice theatre.

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In 2020, Venice’s gondoliers’ association reduced capacity on their boats, blaming the increased burden of “overweight” tourists.

The limit on a gondola da nolo, which offers the classic tour of the city’s canals, was reduced from six to five people, while on a gondola da parada, boats used mainly to cross the Grand Canal, the number has decreased from 14 to 12.

“It’s true that compared with 10 or 15 years ago, tourists weigh a bit more,” Andrea Balbi, the president of Venice’s gondoliers’ association, told the Guardian at the time.

In 2022, an American tourist sustained minor injuries after he fell into the crater of Mount Vesuvius as he tried to retrieve his phone, which had slipped out of his hand while taking a selfie.