Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Adrift in Venice

I think this is the smallest boat in Venice: less than 6 feet or 2 meters from stern to prow
If you're thinking of buying a boat in Venice and want to save a good deal of money on the cost of a mooring place, buy a wood boat. The comune is trying to stem the continuing decline of wooden boats in Venice by offering steep discounts for ormeggi to those who own such boats. Of course, what you save on mooring fees you may spend on the extra work and upkeep one must put into a wood boat to keep it sound. And, more immediately, there simply are no mooring places available.


How bad is it? The other day I was talking to a native Venetian friend when he suddenly leaned in close and said quietly, sheepishly, "I'm embarrassed to be asking you this, as I've lived here all my life, but if you hear of an ormeggio, please let me know. I'd like to get a boat, just a little one, but I can't find a place to put it."

As real estate is a constant topic of concern in New York City, so ormeggi are here. Especially as I'm discovering that even the least likely of Venetians--folks who rarely venture outside, for instance, or people who had boats for decades and sold them off after reaching a certain age--all get the itch to buy one.

You'd think that with so many fewer people in Venice than there were 40 years ago there would be more ormeggi available than ever before. But it seems that perhaps the percentage of boat owners among city residents has greatly increased over the years: a friend complains that even teenagers now have their own. And according to another friend, the size of people's boats has greatly increased. He claims that one large boat now takes up the space in which two or three could formerly have been moored.

All of this is very bad news indeed for boat owners but, even as I sympathize, I have to admit what a relief it is to me. You see, among those who would love to have a boat are my son and wife, and I've found it infinitely more effective and pleasant to remind them that there simply is not a single place to put the boat they so ardently desire than to remind them, once again, that there's no way we could really afford it.

PS: A couple of days ago, after I'd started a draft of this post, I happened upon a beautiful photo of the same little boat pictured above on the 16 February post of the Venetia Micio blog. It's taken from a different angle and shows more of the surroundings:


  1. I realy enjoyed reading this. I stayed in an apartment in Santa Croce one time, and my wonderful landlords told me about how difficult it was to find a place to park a boat in Venice.

    I hope that you are thinking about writing a book about your time there? :)

  2. I'm glad to hear that you liked this post: I couldn't believe such a situation could be true when the first person mentioned it, but I've heard it so much since then that it's become undeniable.

    I don't know about a book, but it's very nice to hear that you think there might be one in all this stuff.