While the local population dwindles, passengers from giant cruise ships continue to flood into La Serenissima. So how are locals trying to save the city?
A monster cruise ship meets a giant octopus and crashes into the Rialto bridge, provoking a tsunami. Its an apocalyptic vision of Venice. The message of Stop the Madness, Philip Colberts pop-art-with-a-purpose at the current Venice Biennale, is echoed by Lorenzo Quinns Support, a large-scale installation of giant hands reaching out of the Grand Canal to prop up the crumbling Palazzo Sagredo.
Venices mayor Luigi Brugnaro could also do with a helping hand. Under-populated and over-touristed, Venice is facing threats from all sides. Its status as a world heritage site is slowly sinking, with Unesco threatening to slap the city on its in-danger list, a fate normally reserved for war-ravaged ruins, under-funded third world sites and, er, Liverpool. Unescos concerns about cruise ships, mass tourism and damage to the fragile lagoon ecosystem have been met with empty promises but no concrete proposals, according to Italia Nostra, the countrys influential heritage body.
For outsiders, megaships are the biggest blight, symptomatic of the vested interests that paralyse Venetian decision-making. For Jonathan Keates, chairman of Venice in Peril, the cruise ships are an abomination whose size threatens the dimensions of the city. Indeed, the World Monument Fund put Venice on its watch list in 2014 precisely because large-scale cruising is pushing the city to an environmental tipping point and undermining quality of life for its citizens.
CHRISTMAS was many weeks away, but the smell of holiday tortellini was already in the air. On a rainy October evening, several young men from the Ducati motorcycle plant in Bologna traded their work clothes for paper caps and white aprons in a rustic country inn. Wooden tables laid with large maple boards, bowls of flour and fresh eggs lined one wall of the dining room. By ANN WILSON LLOYD
San Petronio, Piazza Maggiore and Palazzo d’Accursio, photo taken from the top of Torre degli Asinelli, Bologna, Italy. Photo by the great Luca Volpi.