Friday, May 25, 2018
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Sunday, May 20, 2018
I didn't manage to photograph the start of this year's Vogalonga, as I've done in prior years, nor the end, which I've never done (but have often thought of doing).
But I did happen to see among the many kinds of boats making their way up the Grand Canal after completing the long course through the north lagoon the particular boat you see above and below.
The rest of the boats I saw were of the sort one always sees during a Vogalonga (though I suspect that each year the number of Venetian-style boats suited to the lagoon and the city's canals is ever more swamped by sculls and sweeps, dragon boats, canoes, kayaks, Lago Como-style river boats, and ever more paddle boards).
Previous years, and bit about the Vogalonga, can be seen here: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013.
But I've never seen anything like the boat pictured here. I don't know if they actually completed the whole 30 km course in this boat, or if it would be very pleasant as a rower to do so, but I certainly wouldn't mind a place at the table.
Monday, May 14, 2018
|Enjoy the splendors of Venice as their creators always intended them to be seen: from the water in a large inflatable rubber ring!|
See Venice as the great Titian did!*
(*Or at least hypothetically could have, had vulcanized rubber of the sort used in the manufacture of large truck inner tubes been invented during his lifetime, and had the use of such tubes for the purposes of amusement been common in the 16th century.)
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Sure, there are other ways for a person with absolutely no knowledge of Venice’s crowded waterways to help clog them up—kayaks, paddle boards, even water bikes. But do you really want to look like a schmuck, paddling or peddling, huffing and puffing? Wouldn’t you rather luxuriate doge-like** (**see note * above) in your own singular experience?
|Or explore the city's quiet canals in our galvanized steel group tubs!|
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DISCLAIMER: All once-in-a-lifetime bucket list adventures involve a degree of risk for which Venezia Blog Amusements LLC explicitly, fully, and unequivocally renounces all responsibility.
Venezia Blog Amusements LLC recommends clients have a full and updated battery of vaccinations (including but not limited to tetanus; hepatitis a, b, and c; diptheria; bubonic plague; etc) prior to undertaking this once-in-a-lifetime experience. It advises against this once-in-a-lifetime experience for pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems.
Venezia Blog Amusements LLC further bears no responsibility for adverse health effects--whether of short or chronic duration, immediate or delayed onset--including but definitely not limited to: sunburn, dizziness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, poisoning, toxic shock, skin rashes (incurable or otherwise and regardless of percentage of body affected), blindness, intestinal parasites, stomach worms, flesh-eating-antibiotic-resistant infections, paralysis, hearing loss (up to and including stone deafness), or loss of digits, toes, limbs or life.
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[NOTE: This is a satire.]
Sunday, May 13, 2018
Saturday, May 12, 2018
Wednesday, May 9, 2018
|Barriers at the Ponte della Costituzione (see the full slideshow of images by the Corriere del Veneto)|
The quotation in the title of this post is from art critic, gallerist, and tv presenter Philippe Daverio, and was among the remarks he recently made on RAI about Venice and its mayor Luigi Brugnaro.
If you've ever watched Italian television you've probably come across Daverio talking about art. I've had very little access to television since we moved here and even I've caught glimpses of his programs on art history.
In response to Brugnaro's decision to reroute tourist traffic in Venice over the May 1 holiday weekend by installing manned turnstiles on the Piazzale Roma side of the Calatrava Bridge and at the entrance to the Lista di Spagna near the train station, Daverio issued a broad condemnation of the city's non-resident mayor, saying "Il sindaco ha deciso definitivamente di assassinare la Serenissima Repubblica."
That is, "The mayor has definitely decided to murder the Serene Republic."
For as much as Brugnaro tried to frame these manned barriers as just part of an experimental approach to crowd control that would only be employed on those weekends when crowds were expected to be overwhelming, critics of his plan saw them as the perfect symbol of his continued efforts to turn Venice into a theme park.
As Daverio put it, Brugnaro's barricades are just a small part of the Treviso-based mayor's larger project, in the implementation of which, given the choice of trying to design policy aimed at reinventing Venice as a real city or reducing it in every detail to nothing but a tourist trap, Brugnaro has consistently chosen the latter:
Il sindaco cosa deve fare? Esagerare la trappola per turisti o trasformare di nuovo Venezia in una città? E’ più importante che Venezia torni ad essere di nuovo una città."For the mayor of Venice," he says, in the final sentences above, "culture is nothing more than a cheap diversion. He's decided that the city will have no more political importance, Venice is a tourist park, an amusement park for cretins, that's what the mayor has chosen."
Il sindaco inventi non un tornello per enetrare, ma un progetto per il futuro della città. Lo stato provvede alla cultura della propria società o no? Non provvede ai maccheroni o alle feste. La cultura fa parte dell’istruzione o dei maccheroni? Per il sindaco di Venezia la cultura fa parte dei maccheroni. Ha deciso che la città non avrà più un’importanza politica, Venezia è un turistodromo, un luna park per cretini, è una scelta fatta dal sindaco.
The second part of Brugnaro's new two-pronged approach to managing tourist flow--note, not reducing tourist flow, as has been long recommended by those concerned with the survival of Venice, but simply rerouting it, so as to pack in even more tourists--the second part was to have the large boats (lancioni granturismo) that transport tourists from places like Punta Sabbioni dock not at the over-crowded Riva degli Schiavoni near Piazza San Marco but at one end of the Fondamente Nove in Cannaregio.
|And there goes another neighborhood... (from Corriere del Veneto)|
I must say at this point, though, that if anyone still thinks Brugnaro is concerned about the quality of the tourist experience in Venice they really haven't been paying attention. Attention to the quality of the tourist experience would require, as noted already above, the reduction of tourist numbers. Brugnaro has shown that this is the last thing he is willing to consider. Better, he thinks, to increase the influx and find better ways of forcing them into relatively open spaces.
You say you're dying to see Piazza San Marco?
Well, how about the Scuola Grande di Misericordia instead?*
Indeed, one of the things that forcing large masses of tourists to disembark at Fondamente Nove does is put them within very easy reach of a large exhibition space to which it just so happens that our non-resident mayor himself holds the concession until 2051.
Perhaps this is just a coincidence. Perhaps our non-resident mayor doesn't actually profit from his 35-year concession. I don't know the details of the arrangement. But it does strike me as a curiosity worth noting.
In all fairness, though, I must point out that Daverio's description of Burgnaro's project as being that of simply turning Venice into "an amusement park for morons" is not entirely accurate.
That is only one part of what clearly is a two tiered plan of development.
Venice proper as a kind of Coney Island for the masses, into which they'll be stuffed as grain is forced down the throat of a goose being readied to become fois gras, is what might be called the lower tier of the plan.
The upper tier, the luxury tier--a word our non-resident mayor loves so much that it was, to the embarrassment of most Venetians, the actual theme of the Venice Pavilion at the last art Biennale**--is to be developed on the publicly-owned islands which the cash-strapped state is auctioning off at bargain prices to private interests. Public islands like that of Poveglia which--and by now this should come as no surprise--Brugnaro himself once tried to purchase.
Poveglia, Fort Sant'Andrea, the old military compound on Vignole, the old hospital on Lido... these will become the site of luxury private resorts, accessible only by private means, and closed to the public to which they had once belonged.
In tandem with development plans in Mestre, Marghera, and around the airport promoted by Brugnaro (and likely to financially benefit Brugnaro, as well), the mayor's grand project for Venice and the lagoon is nothing less than an inversion of the old relationship between the watery seat of the mighty Republic and the terraferma to its west, in which the former becomes nothing more than a "brand name" possession of the latter to be exploited to the fullest--even unto death.
Call it the campagnolo's revenge.
*In addition to being rented out for lavish private events, since being renovated by Brugnaro's company the Scuola Grande di Misericordia has hosted a heavily publicized exhibition of Giotto (complete with a hefty entrance fee) which included no actual works by Giotto, but rather a multi-media extravaganza instead. Given that you can see some of Giotto's greatest works in situ at the Scrovegni Chapel just a 30 minute train ride away, and that one of the main reasons to come to (or live in) Italy is to be able to see the actual works of Italian masters in person, I couldn't bring myself to pay 18 euro to watch and hear something I could just as easily watch and hear in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Buenos Aires, or Tokyo.
Forthcoming multi-media extravaganzas already announced for the Scuola Grand di Misericordia will focus on Raphael and Canova. At least Canova has some relation to Venice, but this show will put a private enterprise in direct competition with the city's Museo Correr in Piazza San Marco. And given the nature (and limited time) of mass tourism, it may very well turn out that more people will be interested in seeing multi-media depictions of Canova's work (and being told through narration and music what to think of them) than in seeing the works themselves in person at the Correr.
**Never has a pavilion at the Biennale ever bore such a non-ironic resemblance to a duty-free airport shop.