Category Archives: Venice

Venice – the unique city on water

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Killing Venice Slowly

The Italian government has decided to dig a new deep canal through the Venetian lagoon to give the next generation of cruise ships, even bigger then the current ones, a passage to Venice.

Please consider signing the online petition against this next assault on Venice.

This decision

  • was taken in Rome without any kind of democratic representation of the residents of Venice as the city doesn’t currently have an elected mayor,
  • was taken during the summer holidays, in an attempt to sneak it through unnoticed,
  • will lead to the final destruction of the southern Venetian lagoon, already severely damaged by the Canale dei Petroli, dug in the 1960s,
  • will have a massive impact on the hydrology of Venice itself, with unpredictable consequences,
  • will perpetuate the industrial tourism offered by the cruise industry, which bring little if any money to the city of Venice .

The petition text translated by myself:

Stop the dredging of the Contorta canal, before it is too late.

The realisation of the new Contorta canal will bring the Canal dei petroli into the heart of the city of Venice, reducing its natural defences and subjecting it to the combined pressure of masses of water from both the Lido and the Malamocco openings, with consequences which could be irreversible. We’re against the dredging of new Cortorto canal because we consider it damaging to the city of Venice and to its lagoon. We therefore ask that the project be retracted immediately and that we return to work on all the suggested projects available.

Last but not least, we express the conviction that it should be the city of Venice that decide on a question which regards it so directly, and that its not treated as an almost undesired  spectator

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Gondoliere practise

Waiting for the Carnival procession on the Canal Grande at the traghetto San Samuele we enjoyed the view of two gondolieri practising the manoeuvres they need to do the operate the traghetto.

They needed to turn the boat repeatedly and fast, to navigate the current and waves the other traffic caused and to enter the cavana safely.

They used a normal gondola da nolo, not the standard barcheta da traghetto used by the traghetto.

 

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La Festa dei Veneziani

The Venetian carnival has just started, and one of the first events is the Festa dei Veneziani, which more or less implies that the rest of the carnival is not for or of the Venetians, which is also entirely true.

The first part of this feast is a procession of Venetian rowing boats through most of the Canal Grande, and we went to have a look. Of course, we should have gone there rowing, but it didn’t really work out at the practical level, so we went by foot to look and take some photos.

Here are some of the photos from the actual procession.

Venetian rowing in the 18th century

Antonio Vivaldi, the composer from the 18th century who wrote The Four Seasons, also wrote operas to be performed in Venetian theatres. They were rather modern for their time, and one of Vivaldi’s critics published a pamphlet against him, called “Il teatro alla moda“, which has an interesting incision on the cover.

It shows a small Venetian boat with a man rowing alla valesana. The rower is not a poor man, but dressed according to the fashion of the time.

What I find particularly interesting here, is that it shows that for a respectable and prosperous man, rowing around the city of Venice was as natural as riding a horse anywhere else.

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Ancient graffiti

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The current entrance to the hospital in Venice originally housed the Scuola Grande di San Marco, an important confraternity and one of the six Scuole Grandi of Venice. In the early 19th century it was turned into a military hospital by the then Austrian rulers of Venice, and later it became a civilian hospital.

The facade dates back to the late 15th century, and is one is one of the marvels of Venetian renaissance architecture.

If one examines the walls of this building after dark with a torch, all sorts of little wonders appears. The stone work is littered with graffiti, most of which are probably fairly old.

Here are some of those I found one evening.

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This looks like a 18th or early 19th century ship with several masts. The naval past of Venice is evident.

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Another wooden ship, probably a war ship as it has portholes for guns.

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Yet another ship, but this graffiti might not have been finished. It looks a bit rudimentary compared to the others.

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Here’s a fairly long writing, which I cannot really read, except that it says Venezia at the end.

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Some mixed scribbles, including a few years: 1745 and  1872. Of course, a year is just a number, it could have been written any time. There’s also an @ in the middle.

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This graffiti is made by a different technique than scratching the stone. It shows at least two gondolas, on with a felze which is a type of cabin that mostly fell out of use in the 19th century.

There’s also a year there: 1670 or maybe 1690.

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Here too is a (partial) gondola, but at least the ferro is clear.

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A five pointed star, whatever that might mean.