The notion that Venetian waterways are both putrescent and dangerous is one of the most widely held stereotypes about the city. Even in an era when metropolises like London and Paris were renowned for their stench, many British and French travelers still found the Venetian canals particularly revolting. These canals gave the city's often disturbing smell as one of the reasons why those on the Grand Tour were less likely to take up residence in Venice for several months, as many did in Florence or Rome. This is no longer much of an issue these days, since very few of Venice's visitors stay there for any length of time anyway. Admittedly, this has more to do with the scheduling imperatives of mass tourism than with personal choice, but tourists do not seem to be bothered by the canals' stinking smell. Nevertheless, almost all tourists hear about the supposed pollution of Venice's canals before they come, a situation that many find somehow offensive.
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