Italy has approved a new decree to keep cruise ships out of the waters around central Venice.
The Italian government has ruled that ships and container vessels must not pass the city’s historic centre.
Instead, they must dock in a different location, in a bid to help preserve the famous lagoon.
The decree was approved on Wednesday and involved public consultations on building a terminal outside the Venice lagoon.
This terminal would allow passenger vessels of more than 40,000 tons and container ships to berth without having to pass Saint Mark’s square.
Until these changes are implemented, large boats are required to dock at the industrial Marghera Port.
Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said: “Anyone who has visited Venice in recent years has been shocked to see these ships, hundreds of metres long and as tall as apartment buildings, passing through such fragile places.”
Venice residents have called on the government to ban large ships from the lagoon for years.
Concerns were heightened after the Costa Concordia, a 114,500 tonne liner, sank off the Tuscan island of Giglio in 2012, killing 32 people.
In 2019, a cruise ship collided with a dock and a tourist boat in Venice as it was approaching a passenger terminal on the Giudecca canal, leaving four people injured.
The government said in a statement that it wanted to “reconcile the needs to protect the artistic, cultural and environmental heritage of Venice and its lagoon with those related to cruise activity and goods traffic”.
In 2013, the then government banned vessels of more than 96,000 tonnes from crossing the Giudecca canal, but this ruling was subsequently overturned at a local court.
In 2017, another government tried again, telling big vessels to dock at Marghera, but a number of tour operators worked a way around the order.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been detrimental for the cruise industry, Venice was among Italy’s main tourist venues – attracting more than 25 million visitors a year.