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Venice mayor calls out 'imbeciles' surfing Italian city's historic canals

Two tourists in Venice, Italy, infuriated the city's mayor by riding motorized surfboards through the famed Grand Canal this week, prompting Mayor Luigi Brugnaro to call them "imbeciles" who were making a mockery of Venice.

Mayor Luigi Brugnaro posted video of the pair on Facebook and Twitter, asking everyone in his city to help find the surfers. As extra motivation, he offered a free dinner for anyone who could identify the two and bring them to justice.

"Venice is NOT Disneyland," the mayor wrote as he posted a second video showing the pair skimming their boards under an arched bridge in the city widely known for its serene beauty. Passersby gaped and filmed the spectacle.

Brugnaro got his wish: the pair were tracked down and their boards were seized in short order, he said in an update on social media.

The surfing scofflaws are visitors from Australia who have now been hit with fines of 1,500 euros (about $1,509), according to local newspaper La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre. The mayor also wants to see them prosecuted for harming Venice's image.

The incident comes four years after Venice banned personal watercraft such as paddleboards and kayaks from its main waterways, due to overcrowding that snarled the flow of gondolas and vaporetti (water buses). The law allows some exceptions, but they're mainly for residents.

Venice is a UNESCO world heritage site — but it has been at risk of being classified as "in danger." In an attempt to lessen tourism's harmful effects, large cruise ships were barred from the city's center in recent years.

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