I love Venice. It’s like walking back into time; living in a world without cars and buses. Not an Uber in sight! If the canals flood, you put on high rubber boots and walk on the raisers laid out in the streets. That on the surface (pun intended) seems charming and uniquely characteristic. But there is a more serious side to all this.
Climate change, sea levels rising, cruise ships and thousands of tourists descending on a delicate infrastructure, is cause for serious concern. How can we let the home of so many art and architectural treasures be lost?
Venice was built with technology from the year 450. It hasn’t been updated much since then. Unlike the Dutch, who over the centuries, upgraded their water removal technologies, Venice had been sinking. Venice is about 6 feet below what it was back in 450 and continues to sink 1.5mm/year. Sea-level is rising 5.6 mm/year.
MOSE (Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico, or “Experimental Electromechanical Module”) is a sophisticated engineering system of gates, designed to create a temporary wall at high tide. Even though it was started in 2003, it’s still not finished due to corruption, scandal. financial and structural issues. Projections for completion are 2020. It will not protect Venice, as well as the Delta Project protects southwestern Netherlands. But it’s a start.
Venice has other solutions to help. One being talked about is to ban large cruise ships that create huge damaging waves in the canals. Another is to create rules to try to reduce the number (60,000) tourists that visit this city (of 55,000 residents) each year.
If you plan to visit Venice, here are some things NOT to do. Get caught and you risk a fine, ranging from $27-$550.
Leaning against storefronts
Lying down on public benches
Feeding pigeons (that should be an international law)
Buying from street traders (I hope that doesn’t mean the street artists)
Standing still on bridges (don’t linger as you take your photo)
Drinking on the street after 8 p.m. (No “Roadies” in Venice)
Swimming in the canals (Who would do that, the canals are so polluted)
Affixing padlocks to bridges (this is happening all over Europe, the locks are damaging infrastructures)
Wearing a bikini (The only beach is on Lido island)
Being bare-chested (that goes for men too!)
Riding a bicycle in the city center (This isn’t Amsterdam)
Walking a bicycle through the city center(Leave the bike home)
Now that you have the above down pat, Here are the unofficial cultural faux pas to avoid:
Men – Never wear open toed sandals.
Venetians drink Martinis, not Bellini’s
Don’t drag your wheelie suitcase over the cobblestones. The noise is annoyingly loud.
Café Florian in St Mark’s Square opened in 1720. Tourists sit out front. Venetians know the better priced coffee, tea and cocktails are served in the quiet, back bar.
Spaghetti alla Vongole, a beloved Venetian dish, is never to be eaten with Parmesan cheese on top. If you do, you might find yourself swimming in the canal (with the aid of a little push from a fellow Venetian diner) and end up being fined as well (see the rule above about swimming in the canals).
Go to Venice, enjoy its uniqueness, its charm, the art, the architecture and more. But remember, you are treading through a very delicate antique.
Please be respectful and careful.
We want this treasure to last for many more Millenniums.
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