George Clooney sent hearts fluttering as he arrived at the Venice film festival in his typical style this week, and nonchalantly steering a water taxi to his luxury hotel.
But one Venetian resident was not impressed, and has demanded that city police take action against the star unless he is able to produce the required licence for navigating on Venice’s canals.
The protest by local lawyer Mario D’Elia comes amid rising concern over chaotic traffic on the city’s Grand Canal, following the death of a German tourist on August 17 when he was crushed after his gondola was hit by a water bus.
On Monday, Venice mayor Giorgio Orsoni issued a long list of proposals for calming the waters, including a clampdown on overtaking, steering too fast and talking on a mobile phone while navigating, as well as drug tests for gondoliers.
Clooney himself appeared to have been rattled by his brief excursion on the city’s canals. When asked about his new space thriller Gravity, he said getting round Venice in a boat was tougher than being lost in space.
A city coast guard official said piloting a taxi in Venice required a professional licence by law.
But one town hall official played down the prospect of Clooney ending the festival in jail. “Photos in the papers do not represent proof, so checks will be made,” he said. “But if an offence was committed it would be an administrative offence punishable with a fine. And if it came to that, it would be the taxi owner, not Clooney, who would be fined.”
Ban on famous gondolas from Grand Canal
Venice's famous gondoliers are to be banned from the city’s Grand Canal. The serenades that honeymooners have enjoyed will only be able to take place at night, according to the proposals