Venice Reshaped? Tourist Gentrification and Sense of Place



This chapter is aimed to explore the role of tourism in reshaping historical cities, particularly into forms of cosmopolitan consumption. New mobility paradigms seem to merge production and consumption patterns of tourists and residents, all influenced by similar gazing and performing places. The iconic case of Venice shows patterns of staged authenticity, reconstructed ethnicity, and economy of subordination. Drivers to visit Venice include experiences in a setting that is densely characterised by cultural heritage; however, the tourist monoculture and cosmopolitan consumption have depleted the original elements of this attraction: traditional places, residents, livelihoods, material and immaterial cultures. Culture markets and international events, architectural and environmental restoration, together with private forms of transport in the fragile lagoon ecosystem, have transformed the historical city and its unique lifestyle into a place for cosmopolitan consumption, involving tourists together with new residents, sometimes integrating wealthy long-term residents in this overall tourism gentrification. Deprived of great part of what is considered to be the old and conservative block of residents, the gentrified residents acquire spaces for their cultural activities and political acts in their ‘saving Venice’ projects. Two gentrifying groups are described in this chapter: super rich with their philanthropic associations, and intellectuals. Despite clear differences in their causes and agency, both share common visions over leisurely uses of the lagoon city, artistic production and consumption of its heritage. Sustainability questions could instead propose to start from local memories to reconstruct Venice as a complex urban space with more inclusive sense of place.


Gentrification Tourism Authentication Cosmopolitan consumption Right to the city Sense of place 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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