Concert More Than Triples Venice Population; Residents Complain
Jul. 16, 1989
VENICE, Italy (AP) _ Fans of the rock group Pink Floyd, including Woody Allen and Tom Cruise, more than doubled the population of this canal city to see the band perform on a floating stage near St. Mark's Square.
But the square lay awash in trash Sunday after the concert the day before, and residents were complaining about violence, drug use and littering during the show that drew an estimated 200,000 people to this city of 83,000.
''Venice has been desecrated. Excrement on the streets, filth everywhere, violence, and drugs. Venetians can take no more of this,'' said Augusto Salvadori, president of the Committee for the Defense of Venice.
But fans complained about the lack of services, saying the city provided no special facilities such as toilets or special emergency vehicles at the concert. A 24-hour transport strike exacerbated problems, causing chaos for inhabitants and tourists alike. Many concert-goers slept in the streets.
Police said 80 people suffered minor injuries in a scuffle in the square shortly before the concert began, when a group of fans broke through a barrier. Scattered cases of vandalism also were reported.
The 90-minute show, performed on a floating stage in the Venice lagoon, included laser lights and old and new hits.
It was broadcast live in Italy and 23 other countries, reaching a total audience of 100 million people, according to the state-run RAI network. It was not broadcast in the United States.
The concert set an attendance record as Italy's largest rock event and attracted more visitors to the historic city than did the annual Carnival festival.
City preservation officials had threatened to deny permission for the concert. But on Thursday they dropped their objections when concert organizers agreed to measures to reduce potential damage to the surrounding buildings.
The stage was pulled farther from the shore than previously planned and the rock group reduced its volume to a maximum of 60 decibels instead of 105 as planned.
Italy's vice premier, Gianni De Michelis, spoke out in favor of the concert.
''Venice must give space to all cultural languages, including that of rock music,'' he said.