Though Venetians are prone to have all kinds of theories about why a particular work of reconstruction is taking so much longer than planned--who is making money from the delay, what secret benefits are being funneled into the hands of a crafty few--they are of course happier than anyone else when all the scaffolding comes down and the building they'd spent their lives with is finally returned to them.
In the case of the campanile in Piazza San Marco--its base surrounded for years by a full-blown construction site--the end of the long restructuring seemed, really, like an act of liberation.
A liberation, however, that was extremely short-lived.
Before most Venetians could even get a good full view of the campanile again, unobscured by any ugly building materials, a new ugliness was thrust upon them: the tourist gift shop you see above.
In a city in which most residents already feel as though every single decision made is exclusively for the benefit of tourists, the comune and those who (mis)manage it could not have hit upon a gesture more inclined to inspire intense and bitter antipathy.
This is, of course, the same city government which issued outraged proclamations about the sanctity of Venice's single most important historic public site when a few tourists had the stupid idea to slip into bathing suits and treat the piazza like their own private pool during last November's extremely high acqua alta. Where, the politicians fumed, was those barbarians' respect for the civic heart of the city?
Where indeed... The difference, of course, was that the swimmers were foreigners whose disrespectful act lasted less than one hour. Much more troubling is the disrespect of elected officials who like to wrap themselves in the flag of San Marco even as their actions reveal they all march loyally behind a far different banner: the euro.
In any case, we have been without internet connection in our house for the last few days and I type this in a bar, beneath the aegis of free wifi, with some of the most distracting quasi-music blasting I've ever heard. I can barely remember my own name with this kind of noise, much less type it--or a coherent sentence. So for the present I'll refer you to the facebook group site of those dedicated to the removal of the new tourist container store or gabbiotto:
Earlier today I noticed that one woman posted that il gabbiotto made her feel as though she finally had to admit that the city was lost. Others have not been so ready to give in. There are a series of photoshopped images of il gabbiotto in front of other world famous historical sites (Stonehenge, Parthenon, the Taj Mahal, etc), and one video of its emphatic destruction. The headline of one local paper stated that everyone was opposed to it. Local officials are already scrambling to evade responsibility and claiming that it was only intended to be there temporarily. Hopefully it will turn out to be far more temporary than they ever planned.
You couldn't make it up!ReplyDelete
I wonder what happens when they get about 6 inches of acqua alta in the Piazza.
I imagine a container could conceivably be much more water-tight than a normal store, Bert--only the doors being an issue. So perhaps it will float, and hopefully float on out to a more suitable location.Delete
When I first saw this post, I thought this was a joke! I am "almost" rendered speechless by this depravity. I want to ask myself what next abomination will be tolerated, but I am afraid of the answer.ReplyDelete
I think that was everyone's 1st reaction, Susie, that it was a bad joke, as it was just so wrong-headed after such a long wait to see the Piazza again as it used to be. There are, after all, no shortage of this kind of place all over Venice, so why in the Piazza? And if it was a matter of "convenience", as everything is now explained today, then they'd better put a couple of more around the Piazza, for those tourists who find it inconvenient to walk from, say, Museo Correr to the Campanile.Delete
Two years ago I remember the fence and wondered when I would be gone. Then I read that whenever reconstruction goes on that years may pass by without much work. Arrgghh for all of you who live in Venice! Now to have the fence gone and see that box for tourist trinkets?! Awful. Unnecessary. I hope it it just temporary.ReplyDelete
I believe they are saying it is temporary, for the Manet show. 23 million tourists a year, most of the city devoted entirely to catering to them, and if they still need to set up this ugly thing to get people to actually attend a MANET show, then perhaps the administration's whole tourist strategy is profoundly damnably flawed. If you have to beg your plague of tourists to attend Manet, then perhaps your very manner of attracting tourists has driven away those who are actually interested in the city as a "cultural capital" and left you with... well, with 2-hour-theme-park-style visitors who do more damage than they can ever offset by buying a 4 euro plastic made-in-China mask.Delete
If this was posted on April 1st you would truly take it as a joke. It is one of the most distressing things I've ever seen in Venice - and that includes the Big Ships! At least they sail by and out of sight (albeit to be replaced by another....)ReplyDelete
I cannot even begin to think how the Comune ever, ever thought that this was either a good idea, or one that would be acceptable not only to the residents (who put up with enough already), or to visitors, or to those who love the city from afar.
Did they think no one would notice?
I read now that the Regional Director of Architecture says that they'll look at camouflaging it! What a joke. I think the only satisfactory solution is to remove it. Perhaps it could slot in between some of the stalls selling tat around on the Molo - or even better just vanish and only be remembered as an aberration.
Please keep us posted as to any further developments as I for one would be more than happy to sign any petition, email the Mayor (or anyone else) or do any other sort of jumping up and down that can be done from the other side of the world!
Yes, good question, Mary: How did they ever think it was a good idea? My only thought is that pimping out your supposedly "beloved" city as though it is the cheapest most degraded and abused of miserable prostitutes becomes a profitable addiction for those in the position to do it. Everything that puts money in their pocket sounds good to them. These days I often find myself thinking of a scene from the Enron documentary, THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM, in which two Enron traders were secretly recorded gloating over, actually cheering on some wild fires that are destroying large swatches of California because the destruction will drive the price of their electricity even higher. Of course, they have already created a massively damaging year-long "energy crisis" by intentionally shipping electricity OUT of the state to raise demands and their profit, but it's never enough, and they actually laugh uproariously over news reports of an elderly woman crying over the loss of her house. This seems to be the nature of contemporary capitalism, and Venice is obviously not immune.Delete
Please, let's 'disappear it', as was done in Catch 22. I reckon venessia.com and that crew of determined Ventians will work to get rid of this abomination. Bleh.ReplyDelete
I believe many people are in the mood to make those who signed off on this thing disappear from their jobs--but that will never happen.Delete
ciao , gabbiotto yes or not , Venice is going to survive to this and something else but mostly to the many "lovers of Venice" that after a 5 minutes stay in the city truly believe they have found the sacred Graal of truth.ReplyDelete
I do not mean you Sig Non lo so , because with your nickname you declare fully no to be claiming of knowing it all but most of those that comments on many blogs that recently spits fire on each venetian fact often offending residents, "the comune" and or italians in general; the acqua alta is not washing away the gabbiotto as it is meant to be a temporary ticket office and bookstore mostly serving to the Manet exibit. and luckily will not see the acqua season, i hope though that acqua alta will do something to wash away the envious and somehow hatred feelings that many foreigner are demonstrating with their toughts and comments : we are assaulted already by an average of 23 millions visitors every year , not easy to deal with that already each venetian pays for that in a way or another please be kind and respectful to us....Convento Marisa
I haven't actually come across comments on my blog, at least (or any other blogs I've read), that heap scorn on Venetians themselves, though of course I can not even pretend to be aware of everything that's written everywhere. I know that many Venetians themselves are unhappy with the way the comune is being run--in our local macelleria the other day, the owner was talking about how il sindaco should be thrown into the lagoon--and the comments I've seen on this blog are sympathetic to a Venetian population that often feels as if the administration has forgotten that there are still actually residents who live in the city and not only tourist passing through.Delete
I don't like the attitude toward Venice I sometimes find in English and US journalists (especially English), but I don't think the people who take the time to read about Venice on blogs such as this one and many other sites are the "problem" tourists. The problem tourists in Venice, or in any city or location in the world, are those who never even think to learn even a little about the place they are going to visit, would never bother to read a thing about the place, and behave in such a way when they visit that is unfortunately entirely in keeping with their complete ignorance. Theme parks and Las Vegas are actually designed for them, are perfect for them; Venice and other places are not.
What happened to dov'era e com'era? The carbuncle has to go.ReplyDelete
Good question, Andrew. I guess they figured you can never have too many gift shops.Delete
I just have no words. It's horrible.ReplyDelete
If it were an isolated lapse of judgement, Sasha, it would be one thing. But Venetians are so upset about it because such crass stupidity is the norm.Delete