|An extremely rare sight: the whole length of the Riva with not a single supply or work boat moored alongside it this morning|
The taxi drivers and mototopi drivers went on strike to protest the new 26-point plan of the city to increase water safety on the Grand Canal after the death of a German tourist riding in a gondola last August. The striking drivers believe that the new regulations come down particularly hard on them, reducing their freedom of movement on the Grand Canal (you can read the entire plan, in Italian, here: http://nuovavenezia.gelocal.it/cronaca/2013/08/26/news/i-26-punti-del-piano-comunale-1.7638279).
|Though a green garbage boat is on the job, the grocery supply boats usually occupying this stretch of the Riva are absent|
|The Riva in its entirety belonged to fishermen today|
But I have to tell you, it really didn't. On the contrary, though no one would hope that the supplies to the city might be cut off for an extended period of time, the absence of all those boats tearing or plowing though the city reminded everyone just how beautiful this place can be. It was a reminder of the Venice that existed into the 1960s, the decade during which motorized supply boats finally replaced craft that, until that time, were still rowed, as they had been for centuries. A reminder of the Venice that existed even more recently than that, before the new economy of mass tourism immensely increased not only the number of big ships coming into the lagoon, but the number of work boats required to supply and clean up after tourists, as well as the lancioni granturismi (those large boats that shuttle 50-, 100- or 150-person tourist groups from their tour buses or cruise liners into the city for a few hours then back out). And a reminder, as a Venetian (René Seindal) noted on Facebook, of the primary sources of the damaging moto ondoso: the unrelenting wakes that wear away the city's canals and foundations. (Seindal wrote: "Grazie allo sciopero dei trasportatori ed i tassisti sappiamo ora chi fa la stragrande parte del moto ondoso in canale grande.")
This afternoon Sandro and I caught a ride home from his school in a friend's motorized topa and I can tell you first-hand that the Grand Canal, as well as the small canals all over town, were calmer than I've ever seen them--even on a Sunday or holiday, when, after all, taxis still ply the waters. But you don't need to take my word for it, I attach three short clips from the online version of a local newspaper, La Nuova Venezia (the first one entitled "How Beautiful Venice Is 'Liberated' from Taxis":
So, though I'm not sure whether today's strike will make anyone think twice about the supposed hardships that the city's 26-point safety plan imposes on the drivers of taxis and mototopi, I do think it's reminded more than a few Venetians of the deleterious effects that such craft tend to have on the city itself.
|The strike, alas, did not affect the lancioni granturismi, who spewed day-tripper as usual|