in Venice
— Italy

“I don’t know if we Venetians are special, but we are definitely different. When the kids were small and we went out for dinner, on the return trip we would put them in a shopping cart and push it through the streets, all the way to our house, where we had to carry them up four flights of stairs in our arms. Being special can be tiring at times.”

Lucia in Venice

“The wonder and fatigue of being special”.

Listen to the story told by the author, Flavio Soriga

   “I cannot feel special”, says Lucia, “because I don’t know what it’s like to live elsewhere. For me life is this, as it is for my children - to go to school on our own, to roam the streets and small squares without making our parents worry about automobile accidents. For me the only possible form of a city is this - narrow spaces over a lagoon, canals and bridges”. Lucia knows how much Venice has changed, and it is true that this city has changed ever since it was founded. It has seen its institutions and the size of its dominions altered many times; it has grown, and has always been a laboratory and a workshop in the open air. However, over the last few decades it has changed in a new way, with a dwindling number of residents and a burgeoning number of day-trippers. “Before there were certain months when you saw no tourists, but that is no longer the case. The neighbourhood shops are closing, replaced by stores selling inane souvenirs, which seem to shout to the tourists: come here, buy this rubbish, it’s cheap! It pains me, because it seems like a lack of respect for our guests”. So many artists have come to this city that it seems senseless to list their names, and many of them have left behind travel notes, accounts, stories.

   “Today those who come to see Venice go home with a refrigerator magnet. Before, those who travelled were truly motivated, curious about discovering a different place. Today it seems as though people travel more for the pleasure of buying a ticket for 20 euros, to tick off another name of a city from a bucket list. This city is not only expensive, it is also inconvenient. If you live at the Lido and want to go to Mestre, it’s a long journey. It is a city that has stopped. Sometimes I feel like a panda. When I go to normal cities I adore the confusion, the cars thrill me, but then in the evening I’m exhausted, and I can’t wait to return to the silence. This house is close to the Accademia, the Guggenheim, Fondazione Pinault - in a zone that speaks of art. In the evening there is a wonderful silence, you only hear the passing boats”. Lucia’s husband is an architect; he has supervised the renovation of the house, in which windows and terrace offer a view of a Venice of dreams, canals, rooftops, the steeple of St. Mark’s.

   “My husband works for big fashion brands, helping them to open stores here. An architect from Milan, Paris, or San Francisco wouldn’t really know about all the municipal regulations, and how to cope with tidal flooding”. So the theme of being special returns - to being different, to knowing a way of life no one else will ever experience in the same way. “I don’t know if we Venetians are really special, but we are definitely different. However, keeping this characteristic has a high price, especially if you have children. When the kids were small we went to Mestre for dinner, the return trip from Piazzale Roma to our home was a real ordeal. We would put the children in a shopping cart and push it through the streets, all the way to our house, where we had to carry them up four flights of stairs in our arms”. Being special can be tiring at times.

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