I am happy to admit that I am in love with Venice. I don’t think I have ever felt so overwhelmed (in a good way) by any other place I have visited. Before I arrived in Venice, I read widely, both fiction, and non-fiction so that I could acquaint myself with the city’s main attractions, the Venetian people, the culture, and of course the problems facing Venice, especially to do with flooding and cruise ships.
Since we were not impacted by flooding in Venice during our stay, our more immediate focus was on the problems presented by visiting cruise ships. We took the opportunity go out very early on one morning to experience Venice without crowds, since the day before we had encountered the crush when four visiting cruise ships disgorged their passengers onto the shore. And what a crush it was. In some small calle and on certain bridges, we had to walk single file as armies of visitors (including us), crawled along at a snail’s pace, gazing at the beauty that is Venice.
On our early morning sojourn however, we saw none of that. We enjoyed the quiet solitude in the watery morning sun, but then we stood almost speechless on the Riva degli Schiavoni, watching as a huge cruise ship loomed up in the early morning haze and inched its way closer and closer to us, like a white leviathan. It felt quite surreal, and weird. It seemly completely wrong that this huge hulk of a ship should be allowed to come into the lagoon in such an intrusive way:
Cruising ship comes into view
Since then, I have watched with interest the development of the program to protect Venice from seasonal flooding (The MOSE Dam Project), and the movement to ban cruise ships coming into the lagoon. Now agreement as been reached to reduce the numbers coming into sections of the lagoon by 20%, and ships over a certain size will be banned by November 2014.
I have been particularly interested in what Dominic Standish has had to say about it, because there are pros and cons of course. Having felt pleasure over the banning of the ships, I then read this post pointing out the negative effect on the Venetian economy that such an action might have, forcing me to see both sides of argument.
As I plan to return to Venice in 2016, I will watch continuing developments with interest. I am certainly keen on the idea of fewer ships, but on the other hand I would would hate to think the ban will have a detrimental effect on the Venetian economy. Only time will tell, but it is my fervent wish that this most fragile and beautiful city continues to prosper, despite the environmental problems it faces.
Afterword: Check out this video on the how the floodgates will work – fortunately, the first test of these floodgates was successful!