Loving Venice to Death

When we think of Venice we think of riding down the Grand Canal atop a gondola while sipping wine and listening to a gondolier sing. Though this experience is still plausible, the cherished gem of Italy, with its rich history, exquisite art, and many attractions, is sinking. This city has been on the top of many travelers’ list of where to touch down abroad. Due to the rising sea level Venice is a wonder that is slowly slipping out of our hands, and therefore the rising interest to see the city before its too late is alluring to most.  Venetians are slowly leaving their homes due to the fact that what they once called home has changed so much.  Granted time will tell as to when the city submerges, Venice continues to take a beating with high tide and a growing tourism scene.

An arial view of Venice, Italy.

An aerial view of Venice, Italy.

The city is sinking approximately 0.08 inches each year and because of the progressive sinking, Project Mose was put into play.  Starting back in 1982, after the massive flood of 1966, the plans and implementation have been drawn out. Consorzio Venezia Nuova (CVN), Venice’s best-known construction company took on the job.

Gates will be built at each entrance to the lagoon.

The gates will be built at each sea entrance to the lagoon.

This project is a multi-billion underwater floodgate system installed to keep Venice afloat for as long as possible. The gates create a barrier that will help with the annual flooding by blocking the Adriatic Sea from entering the lagoon.  With the help of a pressure system the gates will rise to block the high sea level from flooding Venice.  This ambitious construction will cost upwards of $7 billion dollars and should be completed by 2016.

There was a skeptical halt to funding for the project to save Venice in June 2014.  Mayor, Giorgio Orsoni was arrested for accepting money for his personal political campaign from CVN. Corruption and money laundering made donors hesitant to help the submerged city. “It is a tragedy of epic proportions” expressed by the former chairwoman of Venice in Peril, a donating charity to Project Mose. Project Mose will continue, though it’s controversial and heart breaking that people would do that to their own city.  The high tide has driven some Venetians out of the city, but most stay because it’s been home for so long. This contraption should aide to the citizens’ protection and the survival of their properties. Venice is slipping away more than just physically, but culturally.

The crowds of tourists in Venice, Italy.

The crowds of tourists in Venice, Italy.

Another form of aide that is needed in order for Venetians to stay in their city and that is tourism control.  Tourist season in most vacation spots is dreadful to locals, but it is beneficial for the economy and the merchants. This increase in tourism would seem valuable for Venice’s citizens by creating a boom in the spending in the city.  The current typical tourists usually take day trips, and after the day is out they board back on the cruise ship. Even though they don’t stay long, when the cruise ships unload, the tourists engulf the city.  The tourism scene certainly brings in money, but it has taken over residential areas. Venetians are slowly leaving the city because their former streets of unique artisan shops are now filled with products geared toward the visitors.  Merchants change their product to appeal to the customer, which happens to be a mainly visitors.  According to Travel, “Since 2002, the number of Venetian properties dedicated to tourist lodging has increased by 450 percent.”  This rise in tourist lodging causes the price of residential properties to soar driving Venetians to the main land.  The residents are outnumbered by the tourist population

Venice is disappearing from what it once was. Venice being the top of the list for many travelers has sent the city into a downward spiral of change. The tide is rising along with the tourist count leading this cultural change to take the charm of Venice out of Venice.