Ah, Venice! Scattering Ashes Overseas

Photo by Chiara Marra

Photo by Chiara Marra

Spreading ashes in the canals of Venice is a romantic dream, but up until now, has been nearly impossible to do legally. A new law up set to go before Venice’s city council early this year could change all that.

Ah, Venice! Venice, Italy is one of the most romantic cities in the world, and it has deep sentimental significance for thousands. It’s the final resting place of great artists, including Ezra Pound and Igor Stravinsky, and people from all walks of life dream of a Venice funeral: having their ashes scattered in the famous canals, or being buried in the city’s beautiful cemetery. But the city needs to protect its environment—a sea of cremated remains throughout the canals would be a disaster—so up until now, it has been illegal to scatter ashes into any part of Venice’s canal system. In the next few months, Venice’s city council will vote on a new bylaw that would allow people to scatter ashes into the canal system from a pontoon bridge far out into the lagoon. This plan would protect the health and safety of Venice and its visitors, while finally allowing mourners to celebrate the romantic funerals they’ve dreamed of.

Spreading ashes in a beautiful, meaningful location is a wonderful way to lay a loved one to rest, whether you choose to sprinkle the ashes or use a biodegradable cremation urn, which will slowly dissolve in water or underground, gently returning the ashes to nature. The Roman Catholic Church recently changed its stance on cremation: Cremation and scattering of ashes is an acceptable funeral practice for Catholics, although burial is still preferred. If you’re considering having a loved one cremated and the ashes scattered, check with your or your loved one’s local clergy to find out how their faith feels about cremation, and be sure to check on the local laws in the place where you choose to lay them to rest. You may consider hiring a professional, such as the International Scattering Society, to help you check laws, get any permits you may need, and plan the funeral service.

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