Header image by Natalie Rapoport. Antoni Gaudi. Sagrada Familia. Barcelona.

Monday, December 16, 2013

I am dreaming of a white...

Everyone is Dreaming of a White Christmas at this time of year, except maybe Ausie friends who are now at the peak of a blooming summer, or maybe even them.
Bing Crosby’s timeless crooning always plays a magic. Jingle Bells and Santa Coming to Town enveloped all radio stations and shopping malls. Festive tunes seems are pouring from the open refrigerator and I caught myself humming those tunes. Really they create the mood, sweet and sentimental, but therapeutic nevertheless, homey-cozy-child-like feeling of a miracle anticipation. 
And it’s snowing heavily like it should do in December.
And I’m dreaming of a white …Venice.
After nearly melting there in August I’m wondering what it would be like being there in winter? What does it look like under the light snow on a foggy day?
Probably quiet, slightly deserted comparing to numerous high season crowds.
It should be windy and a bit chilly and absolutely magic.
built in more then a hundred years 1649-1758.The Venetian Baroque gem with beautiful marble facade. Since 1936 is the venue Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia housing the XVIII century Venetian art. 
Ca' D'Oro THE most Venetian Renaissance windows
Santa Maria della Salute (Our Lady of Health) built in 1631-1681. 
The construction in Dorsoduro sestiere started amidst devastating plague wave, hence the name of the church facing San Marco.
And though Venice is colorful in abundance I’m dreaming of her in white…a winter fairy tale, rather melancholic and quiet than full of multi language noise and clanking and shuffling. I’m happened to fall in love with this formidable city.
The most photographed corner of Doge Palace

Doge Palace Courtyard
View from Doge Palace gallery on San Marco Piazzetta 
Doge Palace
The Doge Palace Courtyard

Ca' D'Oro 
is the most magnificent palazzo on Grand Canal even without lost gilt decoration once adorned facade when it was built in 1428-1430 for the prominent Contarini family. 

The city almost completely deserted by locals who gave up struggling with influx of tourists and left for good to the Mestre, mainland part of todays Venice.
Who could blame them.  The whole infrastructure of a normal city like schools, grocery stores, doctors offices, small business, etc., etc.  disappeared. The city largely became unlivable: hotels-restaurants-souvenir shops. Turning rapidly into a Disney theme park, a Veniceland, a dreadful perspective the current mayor of the city foresee as Venice’s inevitable future.   This crucial decision expects to bring investments for restoration and sustaining. And what it would be: a lifeless architectural monument? Another make believe imitation as in Las Vegas? Those 60 thousands (out of 180 a few decades ago) still bravely holding the fort, host staggering 20 million tourists a year (!!!)

Source here 

The fragile Serenissima is hopelessly defenseless against danger imposed not by floods and time, but by humans. Venice lives of tourism but the overwhelming numbers are killing her.  Someone has coined the problem: "loving Venice to death". Impossible dilemma. UNESCO World Heritage officials call mass tourism outpour a double-edged sword. So much so.
A few years ago started the protesting movement No Grandi Navi against the colossal cruise ships, those huge sea monsters gangs that hoover over a tiny mermaid, spilling over about 50 000 tourists daily. Tourists that have only a few hours to checkmark the highlights and create a horrible stampede between San Marco and Realto. 
There’s no such thing as strolling promised by the guide books. Slow leisurely walk and admiration is taken away, replaced by running for life or being smashed or flown with the crowd.

 Source here
Not only the pictures are hideous: whales against thin fin tropical fish, dwarfing beauty against King Kong beast
 Source here
Source here
These giants in the lagoon cause major water displacement, vibration shock waves and tides are extremely damaging to centuries old buildings. And these daily invasions create havoc in space limited and extremely fragile city, as cruisers-paratroopers are running around wild, hardly having time to learn something about this unique place on Earth, just snapping photos and souvenirs. Who can possibly enjoy such a trip? No wonder the locals see us tourists barely as guests but more as a mob.
There are so many port of calls on Cruisers itineraries, why the most beautiful one has to suffer the most of all? Why these giants are allowed to come so dangerously close to the little golden fish.
Aerial view of Venice
Can’t help but I see it like the most hilarious scene from Finding Nemo, when ‘Dory Speaks Whale’. How I hope the ending won’t be the same one day.

At last some (very few) positive changes and restrictions demanded by the city were agreed upon by cruise industry moguls and will be slowly implemented by 2015. A partial but invaluable success of the rescue mission. The humble beginning brings the high hopes…

As to my Holiday wish.. oh how I’d love to greet the New Year in Venice, somewhere in dimly lit café, with my small family warming hands over the hot cups of delicious hot chocolate and see chocolate mustache on my son’s face… dreamy… 

How would you like to celebrate  a New Year?

*All images unless noted otherwise are © Natalie Rapoport