And so we headed home after completing the 100 Venice Bridges Challenge...

On the vaporetto home I thought about the bridges and just how much history they held, both told and untold. Each bridge represented the history of a person, or a neighbourhood, or something the people of Venice once cared about. Woven together they told the tale of a city that once was a world power, and then slowly over the course of a few hundred years waned in importance as a trading centre. Yet it never lost its power as a historical, cultural and art centrepiece, and today convinced me of the importance of the bridges in maintaining that heritage.

But the bridges also taught me a great deal about contemporary Venice. When people speak of a city overrun by tourists, they're really referring only to a relatively small part of Venice. For the most part it consists of neighbourhoods almost totally ignored by tourists, where life goes on much like in other cities. But in the areas that do carry heavy loads of people traffic, there were clear signs of the infrastructure coming dangerously close to faltering.

Most importantly I disagree with the notion that Venice is a 'living museum'. It's a city that's alive, and while it derives most of its income from tourism, and many of its features are world famous tourist attractions, it's also a proud community of citizens that still call it home. Indeed, many of them have done so for hundreds of years. Who are we, as outsiders then to call their city a museum? It's much, much more than that, if we'd only take the time to take a peek beyond the cover of the guidebook version of Venice.

No comments:

Post a Comment