|Rowers round the great bend of the Grand Canal in front of Ca' Foscari and...|
The green flags were the idea of Jane Da Mosto and her community group We Are Here Venice, which she heads with Michela Scibilia. They bore a simple three-word phrase "Venezia è Laguna" ("Venezia is the lagoon") whose brevity, however, was grounded in a very long sense of the city's history and carries with it far-reaching present-day implications. It is intended as a strong succinct rebuke to those who, like Italy's Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi and Venice Port Authority President Paolo Costa, have portrayed the decision to reroute the very largest cruise ships from their present path by the Doge's Palace and down the Giudecca Canal to a proposed new deep water channel as a means of "saving Venice".
To declare that "Venice is the lagoon" is to reassert that the well-being of the city is inseparable from the well-being of the lagoon, that the city and its lagoon (or the lagoon and its city, may be a better way to put it) are inextricably inter-dependent, or "symbiotic," as Da Mosto put it in a press release that accompanied the display of banners on Sunday. A fact which Venetians understood quite well for about a millennium, and until relatively recently in the city's past.
|...beneath one of the 50 banners opposing the proposed new deep-water canal|
|A map of the 50 palaces that displayed the "Venezia è Laguna" banner|
As the Director of Cambridge University's Coastal Research Unit, Tom Spencer, details in a recent piece in The Art Newspaper ("Scientist_Challenges..."), the fear is that the proposed new canal would further erode the once-shallow lagoon whose wetlands used to moderate tidal surges and wave energy and would act as a new off-ramp from the already deleterious expressway formed by the Canale dei Petroli, funneling surges right toward the historical center.
|Four of the banners on display on the Grand Canal|
The banners on Sunday were intended as a vivid assertion that, as Da Mosto's press release stated, Venice "is united, vigilant and ready to be a protagonist in decisions that concern [it] with the same long term vision with which these palaces were originally constructed [and] with the power of the tradition, energy and rigour of the champion rowers in the Regatta."
You can read more about the controversy over the proposed canal and an interview with Jane Da Mosto in my post from last week: http://veneziablog.blogspot.it/2014/09/romes-decision-makes-bad-situation-much.html.
|The first five crews of the six-oar caorlina race in a tight single-file line|
|Rowers in the women's two-oar race head toward the finish line in front of boatloads of spectators|
|Cruising the Grand Canal beat|
|Two crews of college rowers are harried toward the finish line|
|Neck-and-neck for most of the race, the leading crews of the gondolini race drive toward a photo finish|