In big cities such as Tokyo or Madrid or any other contemporary metropolis, it is not uncommon to find tourists holding their travel books while sitting in the metro, trying to reach a particular destination. After all, to visit the famous restaurant, or the ancient monument or the exotic beach, tourists – just like locals – have to commute and find their own way to what the city has to offer. However, while big cities might have the necessary infrastructure to deal with an increasing number of visitors, there are other relatively middle-sized and small cities that are heavily impacted by the massive presence of visitors.
Bridges in Venice are a good example of the complexity of urban spaces, in terms of conflicting spatial logics. Venice is a collection of islands that are interconnected with bridges made of wood, metal, stone or a combination of these materials. If you are not moving around in a boat or a public vaporetto, your only alternative to commute around Venice is to walk and cross the many canals by foot.
Who owns a city? What is a city? Many centuries ago, the cities and its space were defined by the area enclosed by a wall. Think about Athens (and its port Piraeus) in ancient Greece: as an ‘urban’ center, one expects to find a market, churches, military, neighborhoods for dwelling, areas for spectacle and entertainment, a prison, a school, a hospital, etc. In general terms, our concept of a city is constructed by our cultural expectation of ‘what a city should be’, and even when we can appreciate the difference between New York, Venice and Mumbai, we know that they share some ‘essence’ of what a city is. Indeed, scholars have debated about this concept for decades/centuries, and it is hard to find a definition that satisfies them all.