La Venezia che vorrei … La Venessiana isn’t just about recipes and food trends and taking you on itineraries to explore secret Venice. Our first intention was, when we started this Blog in June 2015, to address topics that are dear and important to Venetians. History, traditions, nature, life and environmental issues of Venice and the Lagoon. We published a Lavagna dei desideri, the Venice Wish List, in January 2015 on my first blog on Venice before I started La Venessiana. Lavagna means blackboard, so imagine our good wishes for Venice looking a bit like a restaurant menu written on a such a blackboard !
2014 was a rather difficult and thoughtful year in Venice when quite a few issues emerged – tutti i nodi vengono al pettine, so to say – and in 2015 required urgent solutions. Let’s see what progress has been made in the last three years ! I think the issues we defined back in 2015 still apply in 2018.
#1: Learn more about & take care of the Lagoon. Involve the Venetians.
I’m not only referring to the tourism industry and the cruise ships threatening the ecological balance of the Lagoon. No Grandi Navi certainly has an important voice in it. I also mean we must take care of the abandoned islands. This is “work in progress”. Progress has been made in spreading the word and involving the Venetians.
In the Lagoon, defining what is an island and what is not can be a challenge. So the number of islands in the Lagoon differ in the guide books. Sometimes, the larger barene (sand banks submerged during high tides) surrounding islands are counted as such. No matter if you count barene and velme or not, each island has a role to fulfill. So do the approximately 50 larger islands, some of which are currently abandoned.
If you are interested in learning more about in the islands of the Lagoon, how many there are and what their role is, keep reading here.
#2: Social media help making up one’s mind. Then start implementing, one step a time.
I think we are making considerable progress here. Since 2015, a couple of important online communities (Facebook, Instagram) have been set up. First of all, there’s the Dream of Venice Community, initiated by JoAnn Locktov. This Facebook Page shares Venice with the world, posting here on Facebook every day, from latest news to food trends to artisan work.
One of the first civil initiatives organized by means of social media in Venicewas Poveglia per tutti, launched in April 2014. Do you remember them? Even though the fate of the island Poveglia isn’t clear as of today, taking conscience and spreading word about this tiny Lagoon island was an important step to view the bigger picture and openly discuss the state and roles of the Venetian islands. We need initiatives like these two mentioned here, they don’t just sound interesting but exchange ideas to pave the way for solutions.
#3: Keep Venetian businesses in town. Support traditional crafts of Venice and the Veneto.
Melegatti. Coin. Fiaschetteria Toscana. These are three names every Venetian is familiar with. Melegatti is the bakery producing pan d’oro, the sweet golden Christmas cake, since 1854. From Verona, Melegatti expanded to Italy and Europe. In late summer, we heard that the production of pan d’oro wasn’t guaranteed for Christmas. New investors were found and the public was called on to support. So many people bought their pan d’oro that for this past Christmas season, the company – and the cakes ! – were saved. We’ll see what happens in 2018.
Coin is the name of the department store that has shaped Venetian taste in home decor since 1946. Even the bridge next to it is called Ponte Coin. The store was restructured several times, not just as a building but also their business model. Now, the Coin Store might just close in Venice in February 2018.
Fiaschetteria Toscana is the third example on the list. This restaurant opened in 1956 and is located just a few steps from Coin, by the way. It closed in October and in December, a fast food chain opened in its place.
There are some points of reference in town we need to preserve Venetianness. Identity, which also includes real Venetian food based on family traditions and recipes. If one of these places goes missing, it will leave a gap in the puzzle. Fiaschetteria Toscana was such a family led gem where you could eat Venetian home food. And cakes – the favorites of several generations.
While we are curious and open (personally, I would love to see more restaurants in town offering ethnic cuisine!!), I think there are some businesses that should just stay. They are the backbone of Venetian identity and points of reference on the map every Venetian has at the back of their mind. I think this issue needs much attention, not just in 2018.
#4: Support social businesses.
Rio dei Pensieri. Let’s formulate this wish on a good vibe :-) There’s Serra dei Giardini cafe and garden center, which you probably know is run by a cooperative, Non Solo Verde. Then, there’s Rio dei Pensieri, a co-operative working together with sponsors to finance an organic garden located next to the Redentore Church, called Giardino delle Meraviglie. Here, women in jail produce natural cosmetics and herb mixtures. And now we’ve even got an outlet in Campo dei Frari selling gifts and little surprises, you can view the Malefatte Store here. They’ve also got an online shop – see more here.
If Venice is to succeed as a living community, we need to involve all her people and share their talents. Above is a concrete example in taking up the ancient Venetian tradition of growing herbs and blossoms in town and using them to make perfumes and cosmetics.
#5: Learn to co-operate. Implement viable solutions.
By viable solutions I mean such that contribute to the best of Venice and the Venetians in the long run. We must also be aware that some solutions work fine in the short-term while conflicting with long-term goals. There are issues to which we have found several solutions, and issues we don’t know well enough yet to make decisions. We should define these, learn more (why not include experts ???), include all stakeholders and decide. That’s what the Republic of Venice (421 – 1797) would do to save Venice …
In short – I think that aligning more initiatives for Venice is an important goal for 2018. As Venetians start working on more issues, more people get involved. That also means that more opinions will emerge. Each of them is valuable and has a right to be heard. And on La Venessiana, in 2018, we would like to show you more of this colorful assetto sociale ed insieme variopinto that is our Venice. So you can decide if you would like to get involved, no matter if you live in Venice or not.
Which are your ideas & wish list for Venice in 2018 ? Tell us in the comments below or get in touch here.