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Venice - An Interesting Story on Trying to Stem More Tourist Development...

Venice - An Interesting Story on Trying to Stem More Tourist Development...

Old May 13th, 2014, 01:37 PM
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No place on earth has the density of historic buildings and world heritage sites of Italy. It's really impossible for the Italian government to maintain all of them, even if tax evasion were to cease. But many of the buildings proposed for sale have little or no historic significance. There's an old unused barracks of the carabinieri near us that's supposed to be going on the block. But wait! Maybe a band of partisans stormed it, or maybe a regiment that fought a battle during the Risorgimento was stationed there, or maybe Leopardi mentioned it in a poem.

I don't see why another 5-star hotel would be a blight on Venice. As I said, the island is out of sight of the city center.
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Old May 13th, 2014, 04:22 PM
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TT
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Old May 13th, 2014, 06:51 PM
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Very interesting discussion. Thanks for the thoughtful input fellow Fodorites.
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Old May 14th, 2014, 03:54 AM
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Bvienci, I like your reasons for maintaining - or not - the unused barracks near you. A further reason is that Garibaldi's cousin's half sisters house maid cleaned rooms there. Yes, the historic buildings don't always have to remain the property of the state. Sell them, with proper heritage controls.

Recycling buildings to alternative uses can be possible, and at other times very difficult. Modern requirements for disabled access, fire protection, ventilation and so on can be formidably expensive. In Venice, the ex-Convento dei Gesuati was abandoned for years, and has been refurbished into low cost and student accommodation. At what cost? I don't know.

I think the push against turning Poveglia into yet another hotel is as much philosophical as practical. A group taking a stand against yet more tourist development, even though that development may accommodate only 100 or 200 people. The recently re-furbished youth hostel on Giudecca has about 350 beds by comparison.

Dulcie quotes the figure of 2,000,000 tourists visiting per year. In fact the number is ten times that - about twenty millions - equating to about 55,000 a day on average. The majority visit during the warmer months, April to October. I have seen six cruise liners berthed at Stazione Marittima at one time - and that would equate to about 24,000 passengers if they were all the size of the Costa Concordia, and that vessel was a small liner. Add to that the bus and train influx, all disgorging passengers at the Western end of Venice, and you have a problem.

That's why many Venetians would like to see fewer tourist numbers.

It is easy to see the signs of the declining resident population. Shops that are converted from "useful" purposes to serving just the tourist trade. The new jewellers in Campo San Stefano replaced a pharmacy. The pharmacy, the Testa del Oro near Rialto, replaced by a glass shop, but you can still see the golden head symbol when you look south east from the bridge - it is high on your left. The new Louis Vuitton place on Salizada San Moise saw the death of Venice's largest book shop. Go anywhere east of the gasworks, and see how many shop fronts are closed - Via Garibaldi being an exception. And those shops were selling product useful to residents, things like electrical fittings, plumbing gear, bread, meat. Tourists don't go much to that area unless they are lost or looking for San Francisco della Vigna, and even if they go, meat won't be on the shopping list.

Maintaining civil infrastructure is almost impossible with the pedestrian traffic, so buried services - gas, electricity, comms, water, sewerage - can only be dug up in winter, unless a traffic jam extending to Piazzale Roma is to be created. Winter is the worst time to do that work - short daylight, cold, and the worst thing, acqua alta, more common in winter.


My sympathies are with the locals, trying to swim against the tide of humanity, delivered daily.
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Old May 15th, 2014, 11:56 PM
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For some interesting articles, some quite philosophical, try

Www.gondoladays.it

Hard copy of the Gondola Days magazine can be found at gondola stations. About A5 size, red and white striped cover.

Worth a read.
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Old May 16th, 2014, 01:19 AM
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Thank you for that link to Gondola Days, Peter - some really interesting articles.
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Old May 17th, 2014, 09:29 AM
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Via Garibaldi being an exception>

Yes Via Garibladi is great - just like any main commercial drag in any Italian town - families, kids, gelato places, grocery stores, etc.

Actually better than the average Italian High Street in that it has NO cars - no noxious vehicles! No mopeds!
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Old May 18th, 2014, 01:36 PM
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"I don't see why another 5-star hotel would be a blight on Venice. As I said, the island is out of sight of the city center."

Many of the bewildered comments here remind me of arguments that were first raised in New York City regarding Central Park and other set-asides in urban areas where public interest groups fought hard --- and actually won -- against developers who couldn't see why "one more" hotel or office building or skyscraper or factory would make a difference since so much community space had disappeared, it would be turning back the clock not to go forward.

It is a glorious idea, actually, to set aside a space where Venetians can go to relax as Venetians, away from the tourist tsunami. I would even advocate going a step further by making boat access to the area astronomically expensive for non-residents and free for residents.

In Rome, stray cats are recognized as part of the antique historic fabric of the city. They have been given their own protected areas, within the warrens of the historic monuments. Surely the native population of Venice -- which is actually more at risk of extinction than the cat population of Rome -- can be granted a space to breathe and be itself and enjoy the lagoon without a bunch of tourists carping they can't see the point of this.

If someone would provide a link to where one can donate to further this project, I am sure I am not the only one who would appreciate having it.
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Old May 18th, 2014, 01:47 PM
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In Rome, stray cats are recognized as part of the antique historic fabric of the city>

the same or more is true of Venetian feral cats IME - especially on the island of Torcello - overrun with cats on the dole.

I agree wholeheartedly with sandra here - very well put.
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Old May 18th, 2014, 10:47 PM
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Sandralist, try here:

http://www.povegliapertutti.org/
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Old May 19th, 2014, 03:19 AM
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There's a big difference between development smack in the middle of Manhattan, and development on an island completely out of view of the inhabited part of Venice.

As I said, the idea of maintaining it as a place for Venetians to relax is nice but naive. Who's going to pay for the demolition of the existing structures? Who's going to pay to create some infrastructure for the Venetians? Who's going to pay for the ongoing maintenance? Who's going to subsidize the cost of the boats that will bring people back and forth? Unless they run frequently all day long, I can guarantee that the island will be scarcely used. Unless the island is regularly used, it will become just another place where trash will be dumped, homeless people will camp out, and rodents will run wild.

The city and the Veneto region absolutely don't have the funds for all of that, and the group of interested citizens can't even raise enough money to buy it.

Venice has at least six public parks, some quite large, which can be reached without taking a boat. One of the largest is the park where the Biennale is held. Part is reserved for the film festival, but a large part is freely visitable. There's also the Lido, which is a favorite place for Venetians to relax. I haven't heard of any evidence, other than from the group that wants to purchase the island, of a demand for more public space in Venice.

The choices are between allowing it to rot and developing it for commercial use.
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Old May 19th, 2014, 06:28 AM
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I am inclined, in a way, to agree with Bvlenci. The hotels on the islands do not have a happy history, probably because people want to stay IN Venice, not on a remote island. Poveglia is a long way from Venice, and yet another five star hotel there is likely to fail. The hotel on San Clemente has failed, possibly not helped by the fact that the initial developer went to prison, tax and fraud convictions. San Clemente is presently closed, a 25 million euro modernisation program under way. The hotel on Sacca Sessola, created from dredging spoil, a fuel storage once, then a hospital for a while, has never functioned. It presently houses a caretaker.

Poveglia is close to Malamocco, no vaporetto goes near it. Sure, it has a long history and some interesting buildings. It could be turned into open space, maybe the buildings refurbished and put to use. But it is not like say, Certosa, which is about 15 minutes by vap from Fond Nuove, and which is popular with families. Even then, the hotel on Certosa struggles, I think, in spite of having pretty cheap rooms -130 euro a night in June.

None of which helps much for Poveglia. Maybe it goes like Santo Spirito, sold to a group of Paduan business people, who seem to be doing not much with the island other than fencing it. But is hard to see Poveglia becoming any sort of recreational facility. I don't think that the Commune has that sort of money.

There is a real problem with what to with old buildings in Venice. The old Osperdale al Mare is de-commissioned, and the future use is problematic. Hospitals are really hard to recycle into other uses, and I don't see much happening with that site. The Hotel des Bains on the Lido is still closed, pending renovation into apartments - the luxury seeking, Louis Vuitton set of 1915 no longer take their vacation for a week at the seaside, arriving by steamer.

I wonder how many people stay at the Cipriani place on Torcello.
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Old May 19th, 2014, 01:54 PM
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Thanks, Peter, for the link.

"There's a big difference between development smack in the middle of Manhattan, and development on an island completely out of view of the inhabited part of Venice."

Yes, there certainly is. The monetary loss to the city of New York in creating Central Park was astronomical and it was viewed as one of the most amazing follies of mis-government imaginable at the time. But even more recently, public interest groups had to fight very hard to defeat attempts by profiteers to commercialize Governor's Island for luxury and exclusive use and instead set it aside for free picnics and bike riding. And the island is loaded with disused military barracks and fixing up the island for public use cost money. The arguments never change.

Investing in the long term public interest in a bank-controlled world is always naive -- and yet it always proves in the long run to have been the most profitable course, even for the banks. The money-people are notoriously short sighted and inevitably destroy the worth of everything they get their hands on by bleeding it dry for immediate profit. It is the visionaries who understand beauty and human community, and ultimate worth.

Do people posting in this thread not know that the hotels are subsidized? The cruise ship docks are subsidized? The entire for-profit commercial tourist industry of Venice is subsidized by hard-pressed native Venetian and Italian taxpayers. It is a false issue to portray this as "subsidies" vs "no subsidies". If the government wants to invest in the people and long lasting beauty of Venice, there is no impediment to doing it.

People also warned that Central Park would not only become a campground for poor people (oh, THOSE people), that it would be a place of disease and blight. They wanted it to be another Times Square! (Lovely place that turned out to be.)

When the public wanted to reclaim Governor's Island, the crisp business-minded opponents, scolders and tongue-cluckers and casino promoters pointed to dozens of parks in NYC that were "underused" in their eyes and where NYers ought to go instead. Interestingly, just like here, most of the trafic cops and deciders-for-others were not residents of New York. it just offended their sense of order and business sensibility and know-it'all-ism. They too "guaranteed" everybody that the plan would be a costly flop and a missed opportunity to breathe the right kind of life into Fun City. (A casino.)

They were wrong. And thank goodness they weren't listened to. Today the park is brimming with creativity and as attracted many patrons and volunteers for music, organic farming, historic tours, and -- yes -- they have permitted low-key commercial development in some areas of the island to offset costs. But that was only after the initial principle of public use was won and firmly established. The overwhelming purpose of the island is just plain relaxing in a public space open to all. You can even take a nap there.



http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer...nd-legacy.html
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Old May 19th, 2014, 02:01 PM
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Peter,

A great many of the disused buildings on Governor's Island have be re-purposed into artists studios, educational centers for the environment. climate change study or organic gardening, or taken down period by a public-private trust.

http://www.govisland.com./html/home/home.shtml
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