The Predicament of Venice

I’m currently enjoying a short stay in Venice. It’s a beautiful place with an astonishing amount of priceless art and architecture.

The fumes from the tourist boat merge with the fumes from a berthed cruise ship in Venice (Image: T. Larkum)

The fumes from a tourist boat merge with the fumes from a berthed cruise ship in Venice (Image: T. Larkum)

However, it is clearly dying. Over the centuries it has suffered from regular flooding. Most of the buildings have long-term damp. This has led to inevitable deterioration of the art, particularly murals and frescoes.

Now with climate change the problems are accelerating. There are plans being made to save the island and its art. However I think they can only delay the day that Venice goes under permanently, not prevent it.

Venice is in a predicament; if it were a problem it could be solved. A predicament you have to manage the best you can.

Part of the issue, of course, is that Venice itself is itself a contributor to climate change. It is a major hub for tourism. People come here from all over the world by plane, train, bus and car.

Once here everyone travels around in a range of boats, all of which (with the exception of the famous people-powered gondoliers) appear to be diesel powered.

Anywhere near the waterways has the smell and often haze of diesel fumes and black smoke. And this place receives massive cruise ships.

There were four berthed yesterday morning, and we saw one tugged past St Michael’s Square yesterday evening. It appeared to dwarf the Basilica and bell tower.

A vast cruise ship goes past St Mark's Square, Venice (Image: T. Larkum)

A vast cruise ship goes past St Mark’s Square, Venice (Image: T. Larkum)

Of course, none of that will change. It’s tourism that pays to keep Venice going and to repair the ongoing damage. It also allows for planning of additional flood defences.

Hence the predicament of Venice, a problem that can’t be solved.


[Update: Since getting back home I’ve found some interesting related articles:


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