Something beautiful happened in Venice last Saturday. You wouldn’t expect it when you come to Venice during the first days of summer. Last Saturday Venice looked wonderful, all blue skies but some houses, boats and even bridges were decorated with sails.
Saturday 2 July 2016 started like those early July weekends I love so much in Venice. When you can still feel the spring freshness in the air, the plants are lush from the spring rain not long ago. Warm and sunny Saturdays like these are an incredible gift and taste of life, so different from any other place in the world.
This Saturday you could see buildings, boats and even bridges and statues decorated with banners and sails. My grandmother loved this initiative #veneziamiofuturo, proof that a fruitful discussion had begun and Venetians were finally making the effort to get back their voice, reputation and vocation. And their physical home Venice.
This is how our Grandmother Lina considers the real and ancient role and vocation of Venice and how Venice could live up to her full potential.
Lina: Spending time in Venice means bringing back balance, sense, joy and quality in life. Venice has got another pace, a humane one, and that’s why Venice is the only city in the world that has kept the memory of slow, humane and healthy life, compared to many fast-paced cities in other parts of the world.
An important role of Venice is also making people curious of their common heritage. In a way, Venice is home to all of us. Venice was the first globalized city in the world. But for a long time, since the fall of the Republic, her potential beyond attracting tourists has been dormant.
What is the role of the Lagoon islands and the fringe cities like Marghera and Mestre ?
Lina: There were always fringe cities acting as ports interacting with the Lagoon environment. First, there was Altino, a Roman city on the northern shores of the Lagoon formerly called I sette Mari – the Seven Seas. Like the islands are considered part of the Lagoon, we must take into account Mestre and Marghera fulfilling specific functions.
Lina: Mestre has received most people that left, or had to leave, Venice during the last few decades. This exodus started in the 1960s, for various reasons. For example, some farmers had to leave Sant’Erasmo after the flood of November 1966 when fields were covered with thick layers of mud containing suspended toxins from the flood. Many didn’t see a chance for themselves to continue life out there. Venetians re-settled around Altino but also moved beyond to Le Mesole, Cavallino and Iesolo. And of course, to Mestre and Marghera. So in a way, these towns have become another Venice.
But then, Venice has never been one community or single town. Remember, the first name given to Venice in the 3rd century AD was Le Venetiae, the “Venices”. One has to take into account that the roles and functions of these settlements have been distinct and complementary. Venice has always been the CENTER of the Lagoon and one of the most important trading centers between the 10th and the 17th century. This is where Venice should start from once again to unfold her potential.
What is the role of Mestre compared to that of Venice ?
Lina: Mestre isn’t a new satellite town that started to exist in the 1960s when the main exodus from Venice began. Mestre is ancient too and was founded in the 3rd century to fulfill the function of entry port (fluvial port) to the Lagoon during the times of the Republic of Venice (421 – 1797).
Last Saturday was an important step when an open discussion on the role of Venice was commenced and it’s visible all over town. We can only keep alive the immaterial heritage of Venice – her language, medical remedies, food, spices – when our physical home continues to exist. Thank you Gruppo 25 Aprile !!!!!