We normally consider Venice as a dead city. Its destiny seems such an inescapable fact – to die of its own success, to turn into a masque for turist consumption – that so little is done and even thought to imagine a different future. To the relentless migration of its inhabitants, now at its peak (less than 60.000 locals live in Venice), opposes the unbearable weight of tourism: in 2013 there were 30 million visitors, maybe 40 million if the one-day-visits could be counted. “But you live of tourism”, they told you, and you didn’t know what to answer. But, maybe for the crisis, maybe because no glory is forever, maybe for the exasperation of the few citizens that remain: something is moving in the lagoon. New grassroots projects of cultural management are popping up, workshops of citizenship in liberated spaces (Laboratorio Occupato Morion, Sale Docks and Teatro Marinoni among the others), and an effective campaign was put forward against the entrance of big cruising ships in the lagoon; the last iniciative, the less expected and more utopic, was leaded by an association that proposes to buy collectively the usufruct of an island! The Associazione Poveglia was born in the beginning of April, from a group of 15 inhabitants of la Giudecca, to avoid that an hotel complex corporation takes hold of this little slice of the lagoon that the Italian state put up for auction (allegedly, to pay public debts). In less than a month, their success was so big that when inscriptions were open to gather funds, the 20.000 euros to attend the auction were reached in three hours. Now there is a webpage to contribute online, and if the auction is not won, the inscription fee is returned almost entirely. As wrote one of the participants of this incredible project “I hope you never return them to me”.
- “Venetians struggle to save historical haunted island from luxury developers“, Lizzie Davis in The Guardian, 22 april 2014.
- Facebook group Poveglia per tutti :: Link to contribute: www.message-in-a-bottle.org :: info: email@example.com
- A reading that could be interesting: Robert C. Davis, Gary R. Marvin, Venice, the tourist maze: a cultural critique of the world’s most touristed city, University of California Press, 2004 [in googlebooks :: review in American Ethnologist (password protected)]
- From June 18th to 20th in Venice will take place the 5th congress of Tracce Urbane, multidisciplinary network of urban studies, that this year includes Leonnie Sandercock as a keynote speaker! (strangely, the event is organized in scapes just as the book linked above)
- And, obviously, don’t forget our colleagues that study the anthropology of tourism: : Turiscòpia