The ‘Venywhere’ initiative helps digital nomads settle in to life in Venice and work from unique and historic spaces across the city. Rose Dykins reports
To boost industry in Venice, Venywhere is a new digital service platform that aims to attract digital nomads to the city.
Launched in December 2021 by the Università Ca’ Foscari and the Fondazione di Venezia – a nonprofit group that protects Venice’s cultural heritage – Venywhere encourages location-independent workers to base themselves in the Italian city.
To help make the move feel more possible, the platform – which is currently in Beta testing – promises to help overseas workers navigate life in Venice, by connecting them with inspiring workspace across the city and offering support in overcoming the bureaucracy and language barriers that come with relocating.
Venywhere members pay a one-time fee to get access to a concierge service named “Soft Landing“. This grants them on-the-ground support in Venice, such as sourcing a local SIM card, setting up a bank account, arranging the correct type of visa depending on their work situation, understanding the local tax system, arranging health insurance, navigating public transport and recommendations for the best places to shop and socialise.
Additionally, Venywhere can help overseas workers find their new home in the city by viewing apartments on their behalf – the organisation emphasises that it can be difficult for digital nomads to find temporary rental contracts that last just three-to-six months, particularly in the best locations for enjoying the Venice to the full.
Venywhere community members also get access to workdesks set up in an array of incredible buildings around Venice that have been adapted for coworking. These include contemporary art districts, 18th-century museums and a former Renaissance convent (whether these make the most practical places for impromptu Zoom calls is questionable, but at least the backdrop could be impressive).
To help make Venice a more attractive option for digital nomads, Venywhere also plans to create a network of open-air wifi spots around the city. The plan is to draw in a wave of young professionals to help boost Venice’s economy and rejunivate the city’s historic centre – which has seen its population shrink to 50,000 (down from 174,000 in the 1950s, according to Bloomberg).
Venywhere is not only targeting individual digital nomads, but large companies who want to incentivise their employees by offering a chance for them to relocate temporarily to one of the world’s most beautiful cities.
The organisation has teamed up with multinational tech company Cisco to create a “living laboratory” project to explore how people’s career expectations and ways of working are shifting, with 16 Cisco employees based in Venice under the Venywhere scheme,
Earlier this year, Italy announced it was introducing a one-year digital nomad visa for non-EU nationals, in a bid to diversify the nation’s economy.
In other news, Venice is planning to charge day-trippers up to €10 to enter the city from this summer, in a bid to gain control of tourism numbers. A booking system was expected to launch this month with a six-month pilot before potentially taking full effect in January next year.
Luigi Brugnaro, the mayor of Venice, says the city was “the first in the world” to conduct “this difficult experiment”.