Venice tourists fight off seagulls with water guns

Venice hotels take action against marauding gulls.

Tourists in Venice are being armed with water pistols as part of attempts to fend off predatory seagulls intent on snatching their food while dining outdoors.

The innovative idea is among plans being discussed by the Venice hoteliers' association (AVA) which says that tourists are increasingly alarmed by the behaviour of the large birds, known as "magoghe" in Venetian dialect.

AVA has organised a seminar to discuss various means of scaring the birds away from outdoor dining areas, including electrostatic pulses and acoustic systems to keep the gulls at bay.

The Monaco & Grand Canal has equipped tourists with water guns while the historic Gritti hotel has also engaged a falconer to hunt the gulls, which in recent years have taken the place of pigeons as the dominant bird in the lagoon city.

Paolo Lorenzoni, director of the Gritti, said that calling the falconer every day was an expensive and excessive option.

The hotel has now switched to water pistols - all coloured orange - after being informed by an expert that the birds dislike the colour.

"As soon as they see the pistols, they fly away" - Lorenzoni said - "You don't even need to use them, you just need to keep them on the table”.

Photo MAURIZIO TORRESAN - ANSA