Posts Tagged ‘italy’
Simon Worrell’s National Geographic interview with author Salvatore Settis, author of a book arguing that much of the current touristification of Venice both threatens its future as a living city and augurs ill for other metropolis, is thought provoking.
Most of us who have seen Venice have gone there as tourists. According to you, we are part of a “plague” that is destroying the city. Should we stay away?
The fact that many tourists are willing to go to Venice is in itself a good thing. I am against any system whereby the number of entry tickets to the city is limited. The minute you would have to pay to enter the city if you are not a citizen, Venice would already have been turned into a theme park. That is precisely what I don’t want to happen.
But Venice cannot be a city that lives only from tourism. The reason Venice had its glory is because the city and Venetians were able to develop over centuries a number of productive activities. Why can’t we promote the same thing in Venice today? Approximately 2.6 citizens abandon the city every day. Venice now has 54,000 inhabitants, which represents a loss of 120,000 people in the last 50 years.
Meanwhile, the cost of living in Venice is increasing every day. Young people cannot afford to buy or rent an apartment in Venice, so they are moving to neighboring places. In Switzerland, where I taught for some years, federal law mandates that in every city, even the smallest village, you cannot have more than 20 percent of [houses owned as] second homes. The reason why the Swiss government decided to do this is precisely not to encourage this loss of local identity. If the citizens abandon Venice and it becomes only a tourist location, it will lose its soul.
You describe several ways in which cities can die. Give us a brief summary and explain how Venice is threatened by what you call “self-oblivion.”
First, when an enemy destroys them, like Carthage, or when foreign invaders colonize violently, as happened with the conquistadores in Mexico or Peru. But the most dreadful danger for a city now is loss of memory. By loss of memory, I mean not forgetting that we exist, but who we are.
Long before Venice, an example is Athens, the most glorious city in classical Greece. It completely lost its memory and even its name. In the Middle Ages nobody knew where Athens was because the name of the city got totally lost. It was called Setines, or Satine, which was a barbarized form of the name. In Athens, there was no culture or memory of the city’s past glories. Sometimes visitors from Byzantium would travel to Athens and ask, “Where is the place where Socrates used to teach? Where is the place where Aristotle used to teach?” Nobody could answer them.
The Globe and Mail shares the article by the Associated Press’ Andrew Dampf about how Rome is not in the running for the 2024 Olympic Games, and Romans, at least, are happy.
Italy suspended Rome’s bid for the 2024 Olympics on Tuesday, forced to pull the plug because of the staunch opposition of the city’s mayor.
Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago said that he had written to the IOC announcing the decision to “interrupt the candidacy.”
While the letter left open a small possibility for a revival of the bid if there is a change in city government, Malago didn’t hold out much hope.
“Today the game is over. But if someone decides that the game isn’t over it’s not up to us. But today we’re ending the game,” Malago told The Associated Press after his announcement at a news conference. “That’s it.”
The move comes after Rome’s city council voted last month to withdraw support of the bid on the recommendation of Mayor Virginia Raggi.