Skip to content

It’s not an April Fools’ Day joke: Venice is giving tourists water pistols to ward off seagulls

April 01, 2022
4 min read
St Marks Square and St. Mark's Basilica in the early morning,Venice,Italy
It’s not an April Fools’ Day joke: Venice is giving tourists water pistols to ward off seagulls
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

You might be given a water gun to fend off hungry birds the next time you travel to Italy. And no, this isn't an April Fools' Day joke.

In recent years, the city of Venice has responded rather ingeniously to some of its most modern threats, ranging from a state-of-the-art £5 billion flood defense system (about $6.55 billion) to combat rising water levels to a 5 euro (a little over $5) tourist entry charge helping to offset overtourism — a levy that comes into force following an outright ban on cruise ships docking in the city center.

But recently, the Venetian hospitality industry has been responding to an entirely different type of danger: the humble seagull, which has become so brazen in taking food from visitors that hotels have now begun fighting back by arming guests with water pistols.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for our daily newsletter for more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox.

In addition to serving finger food under napkins to fool the birds, a handful of upmarket hotels in Venice are now placing water guns on tables so guests can scare off the birds. Diners are urged to aim the guns at any winged intruders when they find their food threatened.

A seagull with an apple in its mouth. (Photo by Joe Ellison/The Points Guy)

Speaking about what caused the armament, Enrico Mazzocco, manager of the Monaco & Grand Canal hotel, told The Times it came down to an incident involving a pastry. “We decided to act after a customer lifted a croissant to his mouth and a lurking seagull dived and snatched it from his hand," Mazzocco said.

Other premium hotels around St. Mark’s Square and San Marco soon adopted the tactic, eventually introducing bright orange guns after the color was found to be of a particular dislike to the birds.

It's been successful by all accounts, too. Just the sight of the gun has reportedly been enough to drive seagulls away from visitors, Paolo Lorenzoni, director of The Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, explained to the ASNA news agency.

"As soon as they see the pistols," he said, "they fly away. You don't even need to use them, you just need to keep them on the table.”

What may sound like a bit of jaunty PR for hotels is actually more serious than you might imagine.

As the birds have become an increasing nuisance around lagoon-based landmarks, hotels and restaurants have suffered as a result. Tourists have been put off from dining outside, and waiters have frankly had to deal with more than they should, costing these establishments money and time.

Related: These are the best times to visit Italy, now restrictions are easing

This has been no more apparent than inside the eternally busy St. Mark’s Square, which is so often a magnet for anti-social gulls on the hunt for a warm meal and a landmark where locals have long debated what to do about the birds.

Tourists in Venice. (Photo by Massimiliano Clari/EyeEm/Getty Images)

Indeed, where eradicating French Fry thievery is concerned, all options are on the table.

The Venetian Hoteliers Association, which backs the water pistol scheme, has also discussed other strategies to scare off seagulls, including special electrostatic pulses and acoustic systems, and possibly even falcons. (Seriously, this isn't an April Fools' Day joke.)

“We could introduce a falcon-sharing system between hotels with one falconer sending a falcon to cover different terraces,” said Claudio Scarpa, president of the association.

Needless to say, we're looking forward to the inevitable battle between laser-donning hawks and falcons in the next few decades.

Featured image by (Photo by JaCZhou 2015/Getty Images)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 6X points
6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Earn 100,000 points75,000 points
Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

Annual Fee

$125

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees