Venice is commonly regarded as one of the wonders of the world, attracting over 17 million tourists each year. However, the city of Venice faces ongoing problems that threaten its ability to stay above water. The city’s flooding issues are notorious around the world. Every year water surges through its legendary labyrinth of streets wreaking havoc on architectural gems such as the Palazzo San Marco. With its architecture under threat, and dwindling population as many young people flock to the mainland, it is appropriate to think of Venice as a dying relic.
In addition to the rising waters, Venice faces the problem of a diminishing population and an increasing influx of tourists that locals are incapable of keeping up with. Up to 60,000 tourists can enter the city on any given day, doubling the population. Those numbers can augment even further during popular cultural events like the city’s famous film festival. Matteo Secchi, and spokesman for a local protest group, venessi.com, says that, “There are no more people, there is no more culture, and there is no Venetian way of life, as the city is every day more like a museum.”
In 2009, the population was estimated to have fallen below 60,000, but the Venetians that are left are incredibly resilient, intelligent, and active people. Most Venetians don’t blame tourists because they are aware that the city needs them in order to survive. The city’s population is striving to diversify the city’s business away from tourism so fewer residents will leave to take jobs on the mainland.
Even though Italy is on the verge of bankruptcy, much of the money from Italy’s central government to the city has gone into funding the controversial billion-dollar MOSE flood defense project. Expected for completion in 2014, it is anticipated to cease the tide of sea water coming into the city. One doesn’t even discuss the possibility of the project not working because of the amount of money and energy spent on resources for the project. Despite these lugubrious facts, Venice has always been a city in peril since its beginnings. It has been attacked several times by military enemies, battled flood waters for centuries, and now it contests with the influx of tourists.
Photographs: Flickr user: Tambako the Jaguar, Flickr user: mjb7q, Flickr user: mararie, Flickr user: llamnudds, Flickr user: Jon Shave, Flickr user: HollywoodPimp, Flickr user: gwenflickr, Flickr user: dvdqueenan, Flickr user: billandcathy References: National Geographic