Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Death of Venice

Venice, in common with many beautiful places, is subject to a terrible paradox: it needs a stream of visitors to fund its upkeep, but those visitors, their feet and fingers, their breath and sweat, are partly to blame for making the upkeep necessary. So it’s little wonder that the city’s inhabitants and elected officials have a somewhat ambivalent attitude to the camera-toting grockles who come to gawp at the loveliness. The mayor, Giorgio Orsini, seems to have decided that, all things considered, the bloody tourists are more trouble than they’re worth, hitting back at those who complain that many of the best bits are hidden by giant billboards. “What difference does it make if the scaffolding shows a picture of the building underneath or an advert,” he asks. “If people want to see the building they should go home and look at a picture of it in a book.”

Maybe he’d rather they went to the Venetian in Las Vegas, that Simulacrum of Sighs, the Likeness of Lagoons in the middle of a bloody desert. Or, better still, the version in Macao, which copies the Vegas Venice rather than the Venice Venice. And doubtless, in the coming years, a succession of Venetians in Rio and Riyadh and Reykjavik, anti-Xeroxes, each one brighter and sharper and more hyperreal than the last. While the real Venice, the first Venice, sinks beneath the water, forsaken and forgotten, the last sound to come from it being a bubbly entreaty from Mayor Orsini, trying to sell you one last overpriced postcard.

5 comments:

LC said...

Last year I went to both the real Venice and the Venetian in Las Vegas, and you've just made me realised that I was equally impressed by both.

Venice has its charms as a city-sized living museum, largely unscathed by war or over-development. In Europe, any place that hasn't been bombed or built on for a couple of hundred years is usually guaranteed to be spectacularly lovely.

The Venetian, on the other hand, impressed me because the sheer amount of effort that must have gone into building and running a giant, fake Venice in the middle of Nevada.

The militant working boy said...

If they don't want to bring the tourists to Venice, then I guess they'll just have to bring Venice to the tourists.
Which kind of defeats the point, but hey, it's got to be good for business!

Tim Footman said...

I know what you mean about being impressed by the effort, LC, but is that really enough? I mean, I’m always impressed by the effort and commitment of those blokes who re-enact Civil War battles, but I still reckon the whole thing is pointless.

It's no good if your business is actually *in* Venice, MWB.

The militant working boy said...

Yes, but at least you get 9 out of 10 or something of the sort...

blackwatertown said...

But you need the real Venice for the smell, the graffiti, the coffee and the cichèti.