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A menace to Venice? Plans for an elevator in historic palazzo stir up anger


The Grand Canal in Venice. Photo: Mattio De Fina

The Grand Canal in Venice. Photo: Mattio De Fina

The Grand Canal in Venice. Photo: Mattio De Fina

It is arguably the world’s most beautiful city, but the difficulties of living in Venice have been underlined by a row involving a celebrity and a former model over the installation of a lift in a historic palazzo.

The proposal has divided the residents of Palazzo Bernardo, with proponents saying it is a long overdue modern convenience but critics are aghast at the changes that will have to be made to the 14th-century Gothic building.

Among the supporters of the idea is Rosario Fiorello (61), one of Italy’s best-loved comedians, who has bought flats on the third and fourth floors of the palazzo overlooking Venice’s Grand Canal.

Opponents include former model Gaby Wagner, who lives on the first floor of the building.

Ms Wagner is originally from Germany but she has spent much of her life in Paris and then Venice.

She said: “There is no way they should be putting an elevator in a beautiful building like this.

“The running tracks for the lift will be right outside my living room. We have windows that are four metres high so we will see it clearly.

“And there will be noise, too – we sleep with the windows open.

“I’m a fighter and this is a battle that I want to win.”

An architect involved in the plan said the impact of the lift would be minimal.

Stefano Zorzi said: “It will be soundproofed and materials will be used that will be in harmony with the building.”

A final decision will be made by heritage officials from Venice city council.

The stand-off illustrates the challenges of day-to-day living in a city built on water and teeming with tourists.

Without any cars, shopping is largely done on foot, with residents lugging trolleys up and down the steps of stone bridges every few hundred yards.

Such inconveniences, plus the high cost of rent, have pushed many Venetians out of the city.

The population has dropped from about 175,000 in the 1950s to 55,000. 

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Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]

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