Sunday, March 31, 2024

A Mototopo in the Bedroom

29 March 2014
 Some children want to fight fires or go to outerspace or become a teacher or doctor or professional athlete; from an early age our son was determined to become a delivery person on one of Venice's many work boats or mototopi. Actually, in his earliest years he wanted to drive a vaporetto, and would practice tossing ropes onto door handles, or around the back of a wooden chair, and then tying the door handle or chair to some other object in the room, as if tying a vaporetto up to its dock. On some days he would string so many ropes across our living room--tying a variety of objects to other objects that weren't necessarily in close proximity to one another--that it became nearly imposible to walk across it.

So it was something of a relief when he switched his career plans to mototopi. Ropes were no longer an issue, boxes were. He collected every empty box he could get his hands on, the bigger the better, as these served as the packages he had to deliver in the course of his play, while either his bed (as above) or the living room couch (unfolded into a double bed), served as a mototopo. In the image above our son stands in the steering position of his imaginary mototopo loaded with boxes, and with a real hand truck to one side. (The folded out double bed in the living room was large enough to accomodate the hand truck onboard, and was therefore more realistic, and was his delivery boat of choice.)

This was play that would keep him busy for extended periods of time, and the real hand truck he got for his 6th birthday actually came in handy in the real world. But his collection of boxes eventually got so large as to take up about half the space of his small bedroom and had to be thinned. 

I suspect that growing up in Venice is like growing up in no other place in the world. I wish more children had the chance to do so. 


  1. How imaginative, and how wonderful that you felt able to give him all the freedom to develop his imagination! He must obviously be very perceptive, as well.

    1. He was always very attentive, noticing all kinds of things we missed. And there's so much to notice in that city. I feel bad for those kids (and adults), both visitors and residents, who move through the city looking at their phones or other screens--as you sometimes see kids in strollers, or in restaurants, with eyes fixed on their screens. What's more diverting than the live people around one?