This Italian City Is Giving Hotel Guests Water Guns to Help Fight off Seagulls

After years of bird attacks, hoteliers are taking matters into their own hands

Venice Italy

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Venice, Italy, is known for its crisscrossing canals, majestic bridges, romantic gondolas, and historic squares. But in recent years, another unique feature has landed on that list: seagulls.

The large birds have been plaguing the city for years, assembling around popular tourist spots like Saint Mark's Square, where they swoop down to aggressively steal food out of shopping bags, off of tables, and even directly out of tourists' hands. At the iconic coffeehouse Caffé Florian, it was reported back in 2016 that "waiters resorted to placing plastic and cardboard covers over food before transporting it in a bid to stave off attacks."

Now, hoteliers are taking matters into their own hands. The city's hoteliers' association came together recently to address the ongoing issue. Two properties, the Gritti Palace and the Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal, declared that they would be providing their guests with orange water guns—a color that seagulls supposedly dislike—effective immediately.

"As soon as they see the pistols, they fly away," said Paolo Lorenzoni, general manager of Gritti Palace. "You don't even need to use them; you just need to keep them on the table."

Will the water guns succeed in warding off the violent birds? Time will tell. But it isn't the first time the city has implemented extreme measures.

In 2015, the Saint Mark's Association, which runs Saint Mark's Square, "played recordings of falcon calls" and flew "a remote-controlled falcon-shaped balloon" to scare the seagulls away. Some hotels began hiring falconers to hunt the birds but stopped because it was too cost-prohibitive. The city also attempted to set up giant aerosol stations that would release "seagull repellant sprays" into the air that would repel the birds but go unnoticeable to humans.

All attempts failed.

Article Sources
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  1. The Points Guy. "Venice Is Giving Tourists Water Pistols to Ward Off Seagulls." April 1, 2022.

  2. The Local. "Food-nabbing gulls go beserk in Venice's St. Mark's Square." May 5, 2016.

  3. The Guardian. "Venice Hotel Guests Issued With Water Pistols to Shoot Gulls." March 24, 2022.

  4. Yahoo! News. "Venice Floats Idea of Giant Aerosol Sprays to Get Rid of Seagulls." May 6, 2016.