Venice fines architect $86K for tourist-unfriendly bridge

(CNN) — Venice has spent the last few years trying to curb the overtourism that has plagued it.
But now Italy’s famed city of canals has taken action against a bridge that isn’t capable of handling the tourists they already have.

Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava has been fined €78,000 ($86,000) for what the city deemed design flaws on the Constitution Bridge that spans the Grand Canal.

The decision was handed down on August 9, 2019, by an Italian court.

The verdict said the architect was “negligent” in his construction process and cited the fact that Calatrava has designed other bridges — including in Dallas, Texas, and Calgary, Alberta — as proof that he should have had enough information to work with to construct a sound structure.

The Constitution Bridge connects Santa Lucia Train Station and the Piazzale Roma.

The Constitution Bridge connects Santa Lucia Train Station and the Piazzale Roma.


The 300-foot-long Ponte della Costituzione, which was unveiled in 2008 to great fanfare, was named in honor of the 60th anniversary of the Italian Constitution.

The city’s lawsuit claimed the bridge, which has a steel skeleton and glass sides, was not equipped to handle Venice’s many visitors — or their luggage. Several of the glass steps have already had to be replaced.

This isn’t the first time that Calatrava has run into issues with his projects.

A planned “Chicago Spire” skyscraper was canceled in 2015 when it proved too costly — it would have required tearing down the iconic Willis Tower.

The controversy with the Constitution Bridge is only the latest issue Venice has faced regarding the real-time effects of overtourism.

Venice has imposed strict controls on travelers, including an $11 fee for day trippers who don’t spend the night in the city and bans on wheeled suitcases.

Mayor Luigi Brugnaro is backing the #EnjoyRespectVenezia campaign, which encourages visitors to be respectful when they visit.

CNN has reached out to Calatrava’s New York City office for comment.

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