Authentic and a bit rough
But Chioggiotti take great pride in being “veraci” — authentic and a bit rough — in contrast to Venetians’ sophistication. Each year, in early August, a local theater company presents Goldoni’s play “Baruffe Chiozzotte” in the streets, and tickets get sold out quickly. Venetians mock Chioggia, by calling the city symbol — a lion, the same as Venice’s symbol — “el gato,” the cat. Chioggia has recently acquired a majestic, full-scale bronze lion statue, from the sculptor Davide Rivalta, partly to “make sure people finally get it’s not a cat,” the mayor said.
And unlike Venice, which is plagued by overtourism, Chioggia enjoys the extra visitors. “We’re so proud that many people are coming. You hear people speaking English in the streets, we weren’t used to that,” said Alessia Boscolo Nata, a teacher in the local high school. “We used to be the lagoon’s children of a lesser god and now we’re not,” jokes Teresa Bellemo, a Chioggia native who works in the publishing industry in Milan, but returns every summer.
It’s not just pride. The arrival of cruises fits into the overall growth of tourism that Chioggia has experienced in the past five years — a trend that seems to have found the right balance, even helping revitalize the city’s historical center.
Chioggia is hardly new to tourism. But it used to be confined to two satellite towns, Isola Verde and Sottomarina, which relied on turismo balneare, family beach vacations. The city’s main island, with its fish market, its 17th-century cathedral and the medieval clock tower, was overlooked by tourists.
But in the past few years, a new kind of tourist started showing up: “They weren’t just interested in the beach, they saw Chioggia as a città d’arte,” an art city, said Giuliano Boscolo Cegion, the head of the local hotel association. That had a positive effect, driving an urban renewal that has become popular with millennial and Gen Z Chioggiotti.
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