Venice tourist holds worker hostage in currency exchange

Bad tourist behavior continues to blight city

By Julia Buckley, CNN
CNN image

(CNN) - In the last few months, the Venice authorities have had to deal with tourists swimming in the canals, headbutting gondoliers and brewing a pot of coffee by the Rialto Bridge (pictured above).

And while peak visitor season may be dying down, bad tourist behavior is continuing to blight the Italian city.

The latest incident: a tourist holding a local woman hostage over a disputed money exchange.

The tourist -- a 46-year-old Israeli who had been in Venice for several days -- had gone to a currency exchange near the Rialto, and asked to change $100 into euros.

But he wasn't happy with the sum he received in exchange, asking to cancel the transaction and get his money back.

He then barricaded himself in the building, along with the female worker from the exchange.

"He pulled down the shutters and prevented the woman from getting out of her booth for more than half an hour," the carabinieri police said in a statement released to CNN.

"The woman, dismayed and frightened, immediately called the carabinieri."

The tourist was arrested for kidnapping, and was not given his money back.

In July, two German tourists who were caught making coffee beside the Rialto -- one of Venice's main sites -- were fined 950 euros ($1,057) and ordered to leave the city.

And in September, two Czech tourists were fined around 3,000 euros ($3,320) each for "obscene acts" when they were caught skinny-dipping in a canal near Piazza San Marco.

Their swim came in the same week that footage of a Spanish-speaking tourist headbutting a gondolier went viral. At the time, a spokesperson for the carabinieri told CNN that the gondolier had not pressed charges.

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