One of the world’s most popular cities is in the midst of an identity crisis. Venice is considering splitting into two autonomous municipalities — the historic and touristy lagoon area of Venice on one side, and the mainland, less touristy area of Mestre on the other. A referendum vote will take place on December 1, when the 260,000 residents of Venice will determine whether or not they want to split the city in two. This is the fifth such referendum on the issue, with the previous four resulting in a resounding “No.”
Pro-split groups believe that dividing the city would allow each part to more effectively manage the struggles of overtourism, and deal with issues more locally. According to We Are Here Venice, a nonprofit group that addresses the problems of the municipality, “Venice and Mestre are two completely different realities that were united during fascism in 1926 and whose history and issues are entirely different.”
Venice receives over 20 million visitors per year, mostly to the historic lagoon section. Because of this area’s popularity, many of the city’s resources are also poured into this area, meaning the Mestre part of the city is sometimes neglected. By splitting the city in two, those in favor of the referendum believe it would allow both sides to allocate resources however they see fit.