Tourist in Venice speeds down Grand Canal in stolen water taxi

Incident comes a few weeks after tourists surfed on Grand Canal.

Venice police arrested a Belgian tourist who stole a water taxi from the city's Marco Polo airport and took it for a high-speed joy ride down the Grand Canal on Wednesday.

Mayor Luigi Brugnaro praised the officers for their "determination and courage" in apprehending the tourist who drove the speed boat in "a dangerous way" through the historic centre of the lagoon city.

Police gave chase after they saw the motoscafo travelling at full speed during rush hour in the heart of the city, according to Italian news reports.

Officers cut the boat off at San Trovaso, between the University of Ca 'Foscari and L'Accademia, in a pincer movement using several police boats.

However when police boarded the water taxi they found a Belgian tourist aged 61 behind the wheel, not the owner of the vehicle who normally operates a private transport service.

It is unclear why the man - who now faces criminal proceedings - decided to steal the taxi at the city's airport and head into town at full tilt.

The incident, filmed by numerous onlookers, took place in the middle of the Venice Film Festival, just weeks after two Australian tourists surfed down the Grand Canal on motorised surf boards.

After the mayor offered dinner to whoever could identify the "arrogant idiots", the tourists were tracked down and fined €1,500 each.

Police also confiscated the tourists' equipment, valued at around €25,000, and expelled them from the city.