Requiem for a city

(Thank you, Christy for the link to this video)




Filed under Venice

33 responses to “Requiem for a city

  1. Rialtofil

    PS of all the comments I have read here, the closer to reality are those of Daniel.


  2. Rialtofil

    Did anybody ask the film maker at what time heshe was filming the shops with closed windows? Sunday 6am? Living in venice,may I say that this “requiem” only gives a very partial and distorted view, whatever the good intentions of the author were.. “requiem for venice” is something we have been hearing for the past 200 years.. cheers from venice, and I am not a ghost 🙂


  3. MaryK

    Having spent a fairly depressing week pondering the multitude of issues that confront Venice – this cheerful and positive piece of direct action cheered me up somewhat!

    Sad that it needs to be done – but positive all that same!


    • Don’t you feel proud of this group of people who don’t just sit and moan about things, but plan and act. By the way, Karen of the Venice Experience blog was a proud participant! She said her husband warned her he might not bail her out if she was arrested. 🙂

      For anyone who hasn’t read Karen’s blog, here’s the link:


      • MaryK

        I found the link from her blog and a loud and heartfelt BRAVA to them all I say. I’d cheerfully go out with bolt cutters (along with a No Big Ships banner) in support. Good on Karen!


      • I think we’d get Jon to use the bolt cutters, they look very BIG! I hope there’s something we can take part in when we’re next there. On Facebook, they do indicate they welcome financial donations, so that’s one way we can help.


  4. Last late November into December whenever I went out in the evening there were families with their children (yes, even in the cold weather) doing their evening stroll in the neighborhood where I stayed . I loved feeling part of the “local” scene. And a lovely video on e-venise shows the festival of the Befana just up the calle from my apartment….lots of families with children and smiles that will brighten your day (or evening)

    To me this is the real Venice….not the tourists torturing my favorite lions in San Marco. I have to remember to give them some special attention when I’m there…..the lions…not the tourists.

    And it is nice to know there are reasonably priced apartments for people who live there.
    62 days!


  5. Caroline

    There are of course very good points to be made here, but I think the film is a bit misleading in parts.

    Yes, some premises there are obviously boarded up – but business premises with the shutters down may just mean the footage was shut outwith their opening hours. (We joke about shops with no external signs “dematerialising” when shut, and still frequently find shops we’d never previously known existed, evidently just because we’d never passed by when they were open!). A house with a closed front door and maybe the paratia up means nothing, and some people choose not to put their name outside.

    Do you know, though, that was my first sight ever of the “decorum police”!


  6. This is a very thought provoking post. Anyone one of us “tourists” takes a piece of Venice back to our country with us in our heart. We were there in 1992 for just a couple days. Venice is such an amazing feat of determination and persistence. I have to agree with Daniel. I think people gravitate to their homelands at different ages, and humans are most ingenious when they have to be. I can’t imagine how they will solve all the problems, but I have no doubt that they will try. It is too historic a place to just bury it. 🙂


    • It’s often said that Venice has had tourists for hundreds of years, and that is certainly true. But it seems that the difference now is in the vast numbers of people who flood in and out of the city on a daily basis, and the seeming indifference many have to the concept of civil behaviour while they’re there. (I know this is happening in many other destinations around the world, also.)


      • That sounds awful. As more populations of people have money, they travel, and we have greater numbers of people reaching middle class, and having the money to be able to travel. So instead of the rich only, that have their own set of rules of gentility, we have the new middle class from all over the world with different sets of rules of respectability, not necessarily respecting any culture because, in our case since the teaching of history-social studies has been curtailed in the schools, they may not have even studied the culture – ever – and travel blind, so to speak. They travel without realizing what they are seeing, and recognizing that absolute impossibility of replacing what is there and being damaged – ever! So if the folks who live in the area are forced to leave because there is no work, then who will carry on with the love and knowledge of the place? Am I getting the picture?


      • Marsha, when you speak to the Venetians, they also decry the lack of civility and civic pride amongst their own young people. (Was it ever thus!)


  7. I was in San Giacomo da l’Orio in the evening and I found a vibrant city. I was in Via Garibaldi in the evening and found a vibrant city. I was in Santa Margarita at all times of the day and found a vibrant city. I was in remote corners of Castello and around the ghetto and found a vibrant city. I wouldn’t be so quick to sing a requiem for Venice. Not yet. It’s true that San Marco is overrun with tourists (more than ever) but let’s remember that Venetian are a breed of survivors. You can still rent a small apartment in Venice (in Castello, Cannaregio or Santa Croce) for 600-900 euros a month and that not much more that what you would pay in other Italian cities. If people chose not to live in Venice is not because rent is so much higher (it is of course around San Marco and other places highly impacted by tourism), but rather because there are fewer possibilities for employment and entertainment. Young people dream of having a car and that’s very expensive to maintain if you live in Venice. Venice does not appeal to the 20-30 crowd. But as they grow older many return to their city. “This darned Venice grabs you with industrial strength velcro” as Yvonne once said. And if it grabs us, foreigners, imagine what it would do to a native Venetian. Don’t cry for Venice. Not yet.
    All being said, I wish they can come up with a humane recipe to get rid of all the tourists like us (as they did with the pigeons in San Marco). Don’t worry, we would be the ones that survive… 🙂


  8. Sig Nonloso

    It is indeed very complicated, Yvonne–everywhere.


  9. Sig Nonloso

    Yes, the insane excess of tourists is a problem, and their behavior at times is, er, shall we say “unbecoming,” but of course the essential problem is the large absence of any other way of making money in Venice. Glass & lace, far from continuing unbroken from their origins in Venice were restarted in the late 19th-C as industries. The short-sighted & disastrous development of Marghera also created employment; as did manufacturing plants in the lagoon. But neither Marghera nor the manufacturing nor more traditional jobs were ultimately sustainable. So the Venice I find myself longing for, even that of Jan Morris’s time here in the ’60s, when Venice was actually a vibrant city of Venetians, rested upon industries most of which were actually destroying the lagoon. So tourism has become the easy answer–and now it, too, is destroying the city and the lagoon.

    It seems that Venetians of old, for all their desire to make money, had (at least at their best times) a sense that there would be no easy answers in this lagoon. That’s been forgotten (as it has been everywhere else), and so the rotten rind of tourism will be squeezed for all its worth, until it–or more likely, the city–collapses, too. (I Frari is becoming waterlogged, as is San Marco, raising the question of which of Venice’s irreplaceable landmarks will be the first to collapse? Who wants to start a betting pool?)

    Meanwhile I can’t help but suspect that here as everywhere else in the world, the “necessity” of selling off public buildings to private corporate interests is not exactly breaking the heart of the pimps, I mean, politicians who have worked for long years to make such conditions possible. The destruction of the public sector has been the explicit goal of folks like Thatcher & Reagan for over 30 years. Did people think they were joking?

    (A Venetian architect friend who was involved in the reconstruction of La Fenice once told me that he suspects that the real source of that arson was not the small fries who took the fall, but some very big fish who knew in advance that they were assured of getting the contracts to rebuild it all. Unbelievable, you say? Or the dealings of the mafia? Watch the old documentary on Enron entitled THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM about how that company engineered a year-long “energy crisis” in California–one of the largest economies in the world–in the interests of its own profits, and explain to me how that company, among the largest in all of America at the time, differs from the mafia.)

    The threat to its existence, Venice used to believe (as many of us everywhere still do), would have a face and culture completely foreign to its own; the irony is that the city survived those perilous “Others” only to be done in by a system of capitalism which Venice itself significantly helped to create.

    I apologize for the rant.


  10. Andrew

    So sad Yvonne. I see no answer to this. Some of our High Streets in the UK are dying too due to the big hypermarkets and out of town malls. Post something to cheer us up soon. x


  11. Anneli, when you watch the video, you’ll see that the ‘flooding’ is represented by the hoards of tourists who are squeezing the Venetians out of their own city. (See my reply to Julie for a little amplification of this.)

    As a friend has written about the video: “all the dreams locked away behind those closed shutters”


  12. I didn’t realize that the flooding was so bad. Thanks for this post.


  13. I always tell people I’m a traveler, not a tourist….but I think I like pilgrim better…especially in Venice.


  14. Oh that makes me so sad–the question begs…where are the Venetians? They’ve been run out by the throngs of tourists…there is something to be said about traveling as a pilgrim vs a tourist—I try very hard to be the pilgrim…….


    • Venetians are being priced out of their own accommodations in the city, as landlords recognise that we “visitors” (or whatever we choose to call ourselves), can pay a heck of a lot more than the locals. Heck, in some cases, what is charged for 3 nights is more than the same apartment brought per month when rented to a Venetian. So, money, money, money!

      The other thing that is happening is that many people who want souvenirs of Venice have an enormous range of shops (not owned by Venetians) with really cheap imports, from which to choose. So, for example, a shop selling genuine Murano glass is getting fewer and fewer sales, while the shop just down the street selling what looks pretty much the same (but is not genuine), gets more and more sales. The same thing is happening to Giovanni Vio (the fellow with the terracotta/ceramics business). He says that despite more and more tourists flooding Venice, he is selling less and less. He’s a worried man.

      You may recognise I’m up on a soap-box today, Julie. 🙂


  15. And the San Marco Guardians are standing right there!

    It seems that in the not too distant future, when all the Venetians are forced out of their homes, onto the mainland, we’ll see them hired by the day to come back and reenact what life was like in Venice.


  16. No wonder my red lions at San Marco look so sad.


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