Saturday, May 11, 2013

Back to Milan

I sit here rocking gently back and forth on the speed train from Venezia to Milano thinking back on my impressions of Venice. Thousands of little streets are lined with shops selling Burano lace, Murano glass, Venetian Carnevale masks, fashion boutiques by Gucci, Prada, Georgio Armani, Brunello Cucinelli, Pucci, Puma, Rayban Sunglasses, and of course the Ferrari store (which is odd considering there are no cars). I guess I didn’t think I’d see those types of stores on this 2000 year old island community.

During the day when the cruise ships spill out their passengers the southern edge of the island is packed with tourists near San Marco. All you have to do is walk three or four streets inland and enjoy the cool stone walls towering six stories above, providing shade and quiet. It is easy to sit and enjoy the services provided with a happy smile, but eventually you have to ask yourself, “How do they do it?” Not just being nice to up to 150,000 visitors a day, but the sheer logistics of it all!
There is not a car anywhere on the island. None. Everything has to be delivered by boat and then hand carted in. Up over bridges, through congested alleys, and up stairs. Because everything on the island is basically a national monument, it is under continuous renovation and maintenance. The average Venetian can’t afford to live there anymore because of prices and difficulty just getting a new set of curtains.

Joe and I went to the hospital to check it out. It was part of a huge church on the north side of the island. As we stood admiring the canal-side of the hospital, a medic team pulled up in an ambulance. That’s when we noticed all of the ambulances lined up in the canal. That began a quest to see the other side of Venetian life. The nuts and bolts, you might say.

A Home Depot-like shop near the lagoon had a large upside down track with a pallet hanging from it. A flurry of boats waited in line to get their construction material. They slide under the outgoing pallet and either take the whole pallet into their boat, or they offload what they need. It was incredibly efficient.

A little further down a master craftsman was putting the finishing touches on a sleek wood boat.

We decided to sit at a waterfront cafĂ© and watch the hustle and bustle. A large four lane water highway is intersected by several other passages coming from outer islands. Whenever an ambulance would come roaring out of the hospital, all boats would pull over to their right side. Coca Cola boats, produce boats, water taxies, ferries, police, construction, furniture, etc. . . all vie for space. Teachers march their classes of elementary school children on and off the water busses.

Venice is much more than lace and Gucci.

1 comment:

  1. So excited for your trip. I am jealous. But alas I've been before. I hope to come up north and visit soon! I miss you both immensely.