Venice floats in my dreams. It, and the rest of Italy, is calling my name. Rich in history, art, architecture, and fabulous food, the whole region beckons to be explored.
You can imagine my shock when this weekend, while out and about, I saw on the cover ofNational Geographic the title of an article, “Can Venice Be Saved?”
“What?!? I didn’t know Venice needed saving. Please Venice, hold on until I get there! I vaguely remembered hearing something a few years back about Venice and it’s troubles but didn’t pay much attention to it. So I came home and did a quick search to see what the deal was. Here’s the low down…
Apparently, during the 20th century, before artesian wells were banned in the 1960s, Venice was sinking but since the ban the sinking has slowed. Now they are threatened by acqua alta, low-level floods that threaten to creep to uncomfortable levels during certain tides. They have this project going on to try to control these floods, called the MOSE project. You’ll have to check into it to learn more – I think I’d just confuse you if I tried to explain.
In addition, Venice is flooded (see that cool play on words, I’m creative that way) with tourists that put a strain on the public transportation and other services, as well as increase the costs of living for all Venetians.
In the National Geographic article, Venice’s Mayor, Massimo Cacciari makes the statement, “Beauty is difficult.”
That’s for sure. We all get wrinkles, sag a little as time goes by. Venice is no exception. And the costs to maintain the city are huge.
With all that said, I hope I get to Venice while there’s some of the real, original Venice left to see. I’m not into over commercialized, “touristy” travel. My ideal would be to be able to visit places for months at a time (wouldn’t that be nice), to live there, fellowship with the people, experience the culture first hand. Learn the history. Appreciate the art, architecture and taste the real local cuisine.
So how do you do that? How do you experience the real, true Venice or any place for that matter? Any ideas? Anyone?
A few bits of trivia about Venice…
• About 828 A.D. (please don’t quote me on dates) the remains of St. Mark were stolen from Alexandria and brought to Venice and placed in the basilica, in hopes that they would place Venice only second in stature (at least religiously) behind Rome. It is said that the remains were covered with pork to prevent Muslims (they don’t do pork, so sad) from trying to retrieve them. Can you imagine how greasy those things must’ve been?
• The buildings in Venice are built on close set pillars of wood, that are petrified because they’ve never seen the light of day since being immersed. Can you imagine? Can you just imagine…
• The word ‘ghetto’ is derived from the Ghetto area of Venice, where all of the city’s Jews were forced to live in the 16th century. Well, there you go.
Here are a few reasons I want to go to Venice and everywhere else in Italy. I call them my 4 “O’s.”
• Gelato - no explanation needed…
• Risotto - I can’t imagine you need this explained either…
• Murano - I wear this necklace all the time and every time I think of where it was made. It’s a small example of the amazing glass works of the artisans in Murano, a small island in the Venetian Lagoon. It’s called millefiori. “Mille” means thousand. “Fiori” means flowers. So, a thousand flowers.
• Photos – You know what this means too. Great photo opportunities abound!
Again, hold on Venice, please wait for me. I’ll get there as soon as I can.
(I did not take any of the photos of Venice, because you know I haven’t been there yet. They are all from morguefile.com. The risotto photo is from epicurious.com)