A few days before Italy is set to lift restrictions across much of the country after being locked down since March 10, the streets of Venice are starting to spring back to life.
CNN reports There are no tourists here just yet. Instead the noise is from vacuum cleaners and sanitation crews inside stores that are getting ready for the grand reopening on May 18.
But even as shop owners prepare for whatever post-lockdown Venice looks like, everyone here in this deserted tourist town is asking the same question: who are they reopening for? Every year, as many as 30 million tourists from all over the world descend on Venice, pumping up to $2.5 billion into the local economy, according to the Italian Tourism Ministry.
But few are Italians, who have never been as enamored with the lagoon city as the rest of the world, according to Matteo Secchi, head of the tourist group Venessia, who says Venice has always attracted far more international tourists than national ones.
“When the city reopens next week, it will still be much like it looks today,” he told CNN in an eerily empty Venice this week. “Tourists won’t really start coming back until the borders are reopened and international travel is allowed.”