Drunk Kiwi in hot water after big splash in Venice

Gondoliers on a canal in Venice.
Gondoliers on a canal in Venice.

The Mayor of Venice has threatened badly behaved visitors with a night in prison after a drunken Kiwi tourist jumped off the city's famed Rialto Bridge and smashed into a passing water taxi.

The tourist, a New Zealander who lives most of the year in St Tropez on the Cote d'Azur, was reportedly drunk when he decided to hurl himself off the stone bridge, which spans the Grand Canal.

But instead of dropping into the water, he landed on a water taxi that was passing beneath the bridge at the time.

The force of the impact smashed the boat's windshield and scattered broken glass across the prow.

The 49-year-old man, believed to be working on a yacht that was visiting Venice, not only badly injured himself but also hurt the driver of the water taxi. He was taken to a local hospital and treated for fractures and severe trauma.

Police said he was in a "serious but stable condition". The authorities were conducting tests to ascertain whether the tourist was "under the effect of alcohol or drugs," the police said.

When he recovers he will face charges of endangering public transport. His yacht was due to leave Venice today. The incident happened on Saturday, in front of crowds strolling across the elegant stone bridge.

Tourists are often tempted to jump into Venice's canals during the torrid heat of the summer, despite a strict ban on swimming, not to mention the pungent smell of sewage that frequently emanates from the canals.

Four British tourists were photographed stripping down to their underpants and leaping into the canal from the Rialto Bridge in 2013.

But the Mayor of the World Heritage city has now had enough of this and other types of bad behaviour. "I insist on (introducing) special powers to the city to uphold public order. Pickpockets, vandals, drunks! A night in the cells," Luigi Brugnaro, the Mayor, wrote on his Twitter account.

Venice has fought a running battle with uncouth and unsociable behaviour on the part of the 20 million tourists who descend each year.

In the past the city has issued decrees against men wandering around bare-chested, families eating packed lunches in St Mark's Square and the feeding of pigeons.


1 The Rialto Bridge was completed in 1591 and is the oldest of the four bridges that cross the Grand Canal.
2 It is one of Venice's most visited sites, but the millions of tourists who tramp across it have taken their toll over the years.
3 A full cleaning and restoration of the bridge is now underway, with the €5 million cost footed by Renzo Rosso, an Italian businessman and the founder of the Diesel clothing company.
4 The project involves a team of 25 restorers, who are inch by inch cleaning the bridge's 300 stone steps and 364 columns.
5 Work started in June last year and is scheduled to be finished at the end of this year.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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