Fear and loathing in Venice Or, No Grandi Navi

Some might say they had warned me and they were right. However, I wanted to take a look at Venice on my way from Trieste to Munich, although I had a foreboding that I might not be alone there on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Indeed, I was not! 🙂

Lemmings of tourists from all over the place crowded the alleys. Vendors had plenty of “all original” glass beads, Venetian masks, magnets, postcards, ice cream, puppets in robes etc. on display. No alley that doesn’t go without the capitalistic promise of an everlasting memory attached to a fridge or lamp or cupboard or what not… or so the delighted lemmings thought and made me stumble over them in their abrupt group stoppings in front of kitsch shops.

Seriously, how overrated can a place be? Of course, I took most of the nice pictures that every virtuous tourist does. I used my elbows to punch my way to the first row on Ponte dell’Accademia. I waited patiently until I was in line for a quick shot at the Canal Grande, down at Campo Salute. I even waited in line until it was my time to cross the Rialto bridge with a multitude of other people. All more or less happy to be there, it seemed.

What a pity, I thought, that all this once grandeurish town is being subjected to decay and capitalistic exploitation. What  a beautiful backdrop it once must have been to stories like Romeo and Juliet. Or Voltaire’s Candide. Or Byron’s „Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage“: „She looks like a sea Cybele, fresh from ocean, / Rising with her tiara of proud towers / At airy distance, with majestic motion / A ruler of the waters and their powers.“

Of course, it’s difficult, maybe even impossible to maintain the “tiara of proud towers” over centuries. And standing in water. Hoards of tourists, however, will only add to the quick and fierce decay, which has only a fading memory of patina and elegance. It’s sadly rotting. Its soul being sold to the multitude of people that are being swamped over the city with each cruise ship harbouring there. To the city itself and to those who adore the “sea Cybele” I wish from my heart that the citizen’s campaigns I saw in the streets will be successful: No grandi navi.


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