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Un-tropical islands of Venice by Misha Lyuve

Aug 21, 2011

The un-tropical islands of Venice are pure contradiction. And all my time in Venice I couldn’t help but wonder – how do we make beauty accessible to the world and at the same time protect it from ourselves?

The combination of old buildings and bridges that are kept in just the right balance of being run-down and taken-care-of, interlaced with a one-of-a-kind maze of canals with a greenish hue and a subtle aroma – all together creating an experience of something perfectly charming and intoxicatingly irresistible. Go figure.

Overlay this charm with crowds of eager tourists and, complimenting their commercial urges, stores that sell everything from high fashion to fast food, tightly cramped into narrow streets and old building. My hotel host, a very very helpful woman, told me: “I came here because I love people – that’s my problem”. Indeed, it might be only “problematic” love for people that would have someone move to this zoo where locals slowly dwindle away and the ones that stay are hardly visible.

But how could I possibly stay indifferent to the romantic beauty of twilight reflections of old walls and wooden frames into the waters of canals or finding an unexpected quiet lonely piazza that managed to escape the curiosity of the mob? And how is is possible to share treasure without the sharing becoming detrimental to the treasure itself? (In case of Mona Lisa, they stuck it into a glass box – I am sure Leonardo da Vinci had something else in mind.)

Tired of all these grieves, Venice is sinking; or maybe the seas are rising; or both – there is a mystery to causes and effects that govern the world. In a desperate attempt to save the beauty, the MOSE Project is developing a system of flood gates, that are designed to block Venetian Lagoon from rising waters. So far the project has cost $7B and there is no agreement whether it will solve the problem and even if it does for how long. Should we continue exploiting Venice’s beauty or just let her peacefully go?