Venice hotels offer guests water guns to chase away food-stealing birds

Venice, Italy is known for its canals and traditional gondolas. Now he may soon be known for his seagulls and orange water guns.

The problem is that the number of seagulls in Venice has increased in recent years. The worst part is that the seagulls are “aggressive and annoying”.

While some tourists may laugh at the pesky birds, local hotel management sees it differently.

“It’s one thing for a guest to get up and have 10 to 15 pigeons and seagulls swoop down on fries at the table, smashing glasses and more,” said Paolo Lorenzoni, manager of the historic Gritti hotel near the Grand Canal in Venice, according to the Italian media ANSA. “But in many cases we have to reimburse customers for spilled drinks and stains on their clothes.”

The solution, at least for now, seems to be for restaurants and hotels to give customers orange water guns so they can squirt the intrusive birds.

Why action is needed

Members of a hotel association in Venice reached a point where they knew they collectively had to do something about the seagulls, so they organized a seminar to discuss the situation as well as possible solutions.

Lorenzoni is not the only one to frankly assess the situation of seagulls.

“As soon as the customers get up, maybe to go to the buffet, the seagulls swoop down on the food and take it away,” a hotelier said at the meeting, according to The Guardian. “We have to constantly intervene to change the tablecloths, as well as the plates and glasses, which they often break. Some customers laugh about it, but others get angry.

Francesco Boemo, expert in hygiene and environment, coordinated the seminar.

“The large number of seagulls, in addition to being an aggressive and annoying presence for people, poses a problem for health and hygiene, as well as for buildings and the environment,” Boemo said, according to The Guardian.

He went on to explain, however, that seagulls should be treated in a way that is not considered cruel. Because they are a protected species, seagulls cannot simply be eliminated, “like you do, for example, with mice,” Boemo said.

Solve the problem humanely

Seminar participants discussed several options for dealing with seagulls. One possible solution, for example, is to use sounds or smells that are offensive to seagulls but undetectable to humans. Another option is to hire a falconer to hunt seagulls.

Lorenzoni, manager of Hotel Gritti, said hiring a falconer proved prohibitively expensive, according to ANSA. And while the hotel also tried to put up a fake owl to deter other birds, they simply climbed on the owl instead.

The good news, however, is that during all the discussions, the hotel management learned something else about the seagulls: the orange color annoys them.

This discovery, in turn, prompted Hotel Gritti and Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal to start arming guests with orange water guns so they could squirt disruptive seagulls – if necessary.

“You don’t even have to use the guns; you just need to keep them on the table,” Lorenzini said, according to ANSA. “As soon as they see the guns, the seagulls fly away.”

Know before you go

If you are planning a trip to Italy, keep in mind that the The Italian government recently announced that a digital Green Pass, or COVID-19 health certificate, will no longer be required to enter public places such as restaurants, bars and even public transport after May 1. This documentation served as proof that the carrier was either fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or had fully recovered from a recent infection.

Nonetheless, Italy is still on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list. Tier 4 List countries with very high levels of COVID-19. Therefore, the CDC bluntly states “Avoid travel to Italy.”

While you’re thinking about it, be sure to read all of our Venice content, including Traveling to Venice, Italy: What to Know Before You Go and Venice, Italy to Require Reservations, Entrance Fees from next summer.

You can also find all of our Italy content here, including

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