By Avedis Hadjian
Venice, Italy, Jun 5 (efe-epa).- International tourists have started to return to Venice after Italy reopened its borders as the country recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
The city’s streets and squares were still relatively empty, highlighting the profound change for its 50,000 residents.
Before the Covid-19 outbreak, Venice was visited by around 30 million people a year.
Shops, markets and restaurants have started welcoming foreign holidaymakers again after almost three months of lockdown.
The city is still theoretically closed to the outside world but one couple arrived in Venice from China via Vienna, driving the final stretch in a car.
Another visitor Igor Kramer says he came from Zurich to meet a friend from Constance in Germany and relatives from Slovenia on a day trip.
“It is calm compared to the previous visit there are not so many people and it is one of the reasons why we decided to come today because it is open to foreigners,” he adds.
The group stopped for some drinks at a cafe in Campo Santa Margherita square before continuing their walk through the city.
Two German friends, now living in Switzerland, strolled along Calle Larga XXII Marzo near St Mark’s Square which is lined with fashion shops and luxury galleries.
It was their first visit to Venice as they had previously been put off due to the high levels of tourism.
When the pandemic paralyzed travel they seized the opportunity to go to interesting places.
Jan Hoffmans, 38, who is a professional chef, says: “A couple of weeks ago we said we should go to Venice as soon as the borders were opened and we did.”
His friend Hannes Gutschmidt, 36, who works as a brewer, said: “We wouldn’t come here if it was a normal Venice day with cruises and all that but this was the idea.”
A few minutes later a group of four couples walks past the Gucci store speaking German.
“We are all from Frankfurt, Germany. And we flew from Frankfurt to Saint-Tropez and then from Saint-Tropez we flew today into Venice,” one of them says.
“We will enjoy the day in Venice, have some lunch, go on the gondola on the canals and then return to Frankfurt.”
A young couple from the German town of Landstuhl is having lunch outside a cafe in an almost deserted St Mark’s Square.
They say they drove for almost 10 hours to enjoy the experience.
Since the relaxation of the quarantine measures a couple of weeks ago, the outdoor tables of the city’s cafes and restaurants had begun to come to life, mostly with locals and visitors from neighboring towns and cities in the Veneto region.