Venice as it was, as it is and as it will be.
For us Venetians, the only way to get to know Venice in the early 1900s was to ask our grandparents or rely on the stories handed down by our ancestors.
We listened to stories of Venetian life prior to the arrival of industrialization when the transport of coal and other goods was by rowboats, through their stories we came to discover an active, working Venice and we discovered where there were artisans or where there were medium-small industries between the streets and have handed down anecdotes to us.
We have known Venice from the beginning of the century with the Grand Canal where few boats pass, or the San Marco Basin without waves or a Giudecca canal where you could safely row, but also sporting events such as the Byron Cup which included a swimming route from the Lido to the Santa Lucia train station.
For us those were the images of a mythical Venice that was and never will be, in fact seeing the city full of tourists and the canals inside and outside the city invaded by motor boats, it seemed impossible to imagine a different city.
“Today, however, is different”
Because of the pandemic we can see with our eyes the water made transparent by the lack of lifting of the sediments and understand what our old people meant when they talked about how they caught shrimp along the banks of the canals or the silence that was lived in Venice without the noise of “modernity” (as indicated by trams and buses and the first cars).
Nature, in fact, is recovering the spaces we had subtracted from it and we can admire the sound of the myriad of birds that were previously submerged by the bustle. We can finally breathe deeply, as the traffic of motor boats is reduced to a minimum and therefore also the pollution caused by fossil fuels.
The San Marco basin now has flat water, usually has waves of about 2 meters, and now if a cormorant soars over the Grand Canal, the only visible waves are formed since the vaporetti are few and there are no Taxi. Venice is back poetic, almost dreamlike.
The streets are deserted and only a few Venetians pass through what is Venice under the co-vid-19.
Now we can afford to imagine what Venice could be with a more controlled tourist flow and with less swell.
It would be nice to imagine living in the first Italian city that said goodbye to fossil fuels, after all it is not only the new generations who ask for it, but Nature itself.
This is a thorny topic, but it would be enough to wander around the Venetian canals slowly with a rowboat and then on the surface of the water to realize the real situation in which Venice is facing. Collapses of walls or scary cracks are hidden just below the water level at the time of high tide, but when the tide falls everything comes to light and it takes little to see that Venice crumbles.
There have always been boats in Venice and the waves that impact on the walls and on the banks of the sandbanks, but in Venice for about 1000 years people traveled with flat-bottomed boats and pushed by oars, in the last 50 years, however, boats have a hull, in order to acquire greater speed, and ever more powerful engines that produce greater vibrations that creep between the walls and crumble centuries-old bricks.
The situation in Venice has become serious, the foundations show signs of scratches and more or less profound damage. Routine maintenance is no longer done and the results are there for all to see.
If we want to show the beauties of Venice and its lagoon to our children and grandchildren we must act immediately, otherwise their eyes will only see ruins instead of the city and an immense bay instead of the lagoon. We must think that this city was handed over to us by our ancestors who built it with the sweat of their foreheads at the cost of immense sacrifices and we cannot let it crumble before our eyes.
It is essential that we rethink our development system and rediscover the values that have guided previous generations. If we are unscrupulous predators, we will leave the desert behind us, but if we act with a more forward-looking perspective, the next generations will also be able to enjoy the beauty of Venice.
“The time has come to reconsider the foundations of the economy, to consider eco-sustainable development capable of creating well-being for both humanity and the environment.”
We will have to review many things about our way of consumption, such as personal mobility as it is responsible for a huge amount of harmful gas emissions if it occurs through fossil fuel engines. To many it will seem all is lost, but we know and believe a change is coming to protect our beautiful city of Venice.