Venice has a new menace. Not the now-banished cruise ships that dwarfed the city. Not the noisy pigeons flocking in Piazza San Marco. This time, it's gulls, whose numbers have multiplied and whose boldness has grown.
At least two luxury hotels are putting water pistols on their outdoor tables, encouraging diners to take aim at the birds who are taking aim at their meals. Enrico Mazzocco, manager of the Monaco & Grand Canal Hotel noted that in one instance "a gull flew off with an entire steak, just as the waiter lifted the lid off the plate," and decided on the guns when a gull snatched a croissant from a guest's hand as he was about to eat it.
The Gritti Palace hotel has taken similar measures, using orange water pistols; the color is believed to deter the birds. He reported that at times, there were mass attacks by as many as 15 gulls, but that the colored pistols have eased the danger.
The president of the Venice hotelier's association has suggested a different solution: “We could introduce a falcon-sharing system between hotels with one falconer sending a falcon to cover different terraces." It's not clear, however, how diners might react to a falcon tearing a gull apart at the table.