Travel News: Mass Tourism in Venice and Florence

travel news

TSA Precheck: Just A Reminder

Those enrolled in the TSA’s Precheck program will not have to remove their oversized electronics, due to their willingness to trade their fingerprints (and $85) for speedier screening. The TSA notes that Precheck is now available at 200 airports nationwide, up from 180 at the start of the year. 

Google Earth’s Redesign Is Finally On iOS

Google Earth’s long overdue redesign is finally ready for your iPhone. The updated app just hit the App Store, more than three months after Google launched the update for desktop and Android. The new Google Earth has been rebuilt entirely from scratch. The new iOS app is faster and brings a load of new features, including new 3D map views, interactive tours, and new ways to share the locations you visit. The update also integrates Google’s Knowledge Graph, so you can view snippets of information about different locations inside of the Earth app. Besides finally bringing Earth’s iPhone app up to speed with Android, the update is even more welcome considering the popular app had gone years without any significant updates for iOS.

North Korea Travel Alert

Effective September 1, 2017, US passports are not valid for travel to, in, or through North Korea unless they are specially validated by the Department of State. The Department of State strongly urges US citizens to avoid all travel to North Korea/the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) due to the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention.

In the past, North Korean authorities, under North Korea’s system of law enforcement, have imposed unduly harsh sentences-including for actions that in the United States would not be considered crimes. They have also threatened US citizen detainees with being treated in accordance with the “wartime law” of the DPRK.

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Holland America Announces New Chocolate Surprise Dessert Parade

Holland America Line is introducing what it is calling a Chocolate Surprise parade on the last gala evening of every cruise, according to a statement. Rather than guests having to make their way to the buffet and wait in line for a sweet treat, Chocolate Surprise brings bite-sized confections to guests in the main public areas as they enjoy the evening’s entertainment. After dinner, waiters parade through the Promenade decks with trays of chocolate desserts, passing them out to guests in the bars and lounges.

The nearly hour-long parade is the newest addition to Holland America Line’s growing list of culinary innovations that put an unconventional twist on a traditional event, the company said. As servers with trays pass by, guests can choose from chocolate cones with lemon curd, bittersweet chocolate and butter cream; double chocolate cupcakes; dark chocolate hazelnut pops; milk chocolate raspberry tarts; chocolate macaroons with Grand Marnier; chocolate-dipped marshmallows and caramel puffed rice treats with chocolate sauce. Chocolate Surprise takes place on all ships fleet-wide now and is in addition to even more tempting selections on the dessert menu in the restaurants. Maybe this will be the end of Baked Alaska, a dessert that deserves to be retired from ship’s menus.

Nearly 2 Tons Of Ivory To Be Crushed In New York City’s Central Park

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will destroy nearly two tons of illegal ivory confiscated through state enforcement efforts. The ivory has a net worth of more than $8 million, representing more than 100 elephants. The ivory tusks, trinkets, statues, jewelry, and other decorative items will be crushed in Central Park, New York City while supporters gather to watch, sending a clear message that the state will not tolerate wildlife crime that threatens to wipe out Africa’s elephants. The event is being organized by New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Wildlife Conservation Society, with support from Tiffany & Co.

Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises and Cunard Line to Offer Same-Sex Marriages at Sea

Following a recent Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex marriages in Bermuda, three Carnival Corp. cruise lines, Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises and Cunard Line, have revealed they are now taking bookings for same-sex marriages at sea. The ruling permits any Bermuda-registered cruise ship offering weddings at sea packages the opportunity to offer same-sex ceremonies. All P&O Cruises’ ships (with the exception of Britannia) are registered in Bermuda, while Cunard’s three-ship fleet is also registered there. Ceremonies will be performed by the ship’s captain or deputy captain, with marriage licenses issued by Bermuda. P&O Cruises’ Weddings at Sea packages start from £1,200 and the first same-sex ceremony is set to take place in the Caribbean onboard the 3,096-passenger Azura in January 2018. 

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Venice and Florence: Solutions To Control Mass Tourism

The recent abuse of some young Belgian tourists who jumped off the San Marco bridge in the lower canal has exacerbated the patience of the local authorities who are seriously studying a plan to contain the flow of tourists into Venice. There have been many solutions conceived by the responsible authorities to preserve the territory and economic interests: name to regulate flows through information, awareness raising, and programming actions and a tourist tax charged on all tourist accommodations.

Florence is dealing with the same overpopulation: “Florence is very different from Venice, it is difficult to forbid transit to people in certain public areas of the center without the risk of confusing workers, residents, visitors. However, it is necessary for Florence to devise ideas to prevent what is happening in Venice. Bite and run tourism is the number one enemy for Florence as well.” Alternative solutions for Florence have been entrusted to the Palazzo Vecchio studio and include tickets for museums, entrance tickets in the municipal galleries (including the Palazzo Vecchio) at a variable rate, according to timetables and moments of the year to disincentive the “excessive influx of tourists” that occurs at certain times, and always in view of a decongestion of the central area.

The Mayor announced another initiative: “We had an interview with Ataf (the city public transport company) to activate a shuttle tour of architectural treasures available on the hills around Florence: Forte Belvedere, Villa Bardini, Piazzale Michelangelo, San Miniato basilica, to promote tourism outside the historic center.” In the meantime, tourists just keep coming.

Longest Hanging Pedestrian Bridge In The World Opens Near Swiss Town Of Zermatt

The world’s longest hanging pedestrian bridge opened Saturday in the Swiss Alps near the town of Zermatt. The structure measures 494 meters in length and hangs 85 meters above the Grabengufer ravine. The Zermatt Tourist board claims it’s the world’s longest hanging bridge, although a similar bridge in Austria hangs 110m higher off the ground. The bridge took ten weeks to construct and its cables alone weigh roughly 15,998 lbs, according to the Zermatt tourism board.

SwissRope, the company responsible for the structure, included a special dampener with an anti-swing feature to prevent any unfortunate accidents with hikers experiencing a sudden case of vertigo, reports Stuttgarter-Zeitung. The bridge is located along the Europaweg trail, a two-day hiking route between Zermatt and Grachen that offers a spectacular view of the 4,478 meter-high Matterhorn. It replaces a similar bridge that was closed in 2010 due to rockfall damage, which forced hikers to climb 500 m down into the valley and back up again.

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