In the previous Venice post I concentrated on the classic views – the Rialto Bridge, the Grand Canal, the Gondolas etc – however what I hadn’t expected was the finer details of Venice – the buskers, the glimpsed views through arches, daily life going on in the small campo (squares) and the workers selling goods, cleaning, delivering goods, taking away the rubbish and generally keeping the city ticking over. Although Venice’s resident population has dropped to below 60,000 the city still has a local flavour as many Venetians now commute in daily from Mestre or Padua to work in the city’s restaurants, bars, shops, as council workers, gondoliers or stall holders in the markets. (It is said that 20,000 workers commute in).
After the tourist crowds have dispersed a bit or in the smaller back-alleys and squares some ‘normal’ life can be spotted – kids running around, even a game of football in the large piazza (especially Campo San Polo for some reason). What it is like to actually live in a city where 20 million visitors arrive on your doorstep every year is anyone’s guess but generally Venetians seemed to be calm and friendly towards everyone. I was especially impressed with the cleanliness of the place – given the amount of visitors and the pressure that must put on the city authorities – in the two mornings I went to St Mark’s Square before dawn there were several workers already there sweeping the whole square clean. The picture here of the man sweeping St Marks was taken at 6.04 am and he and his colleagues had already cleaned the whole piazza – I suspect they had a very early start to their working day!
The organisation of the city must be incredible – everything must come in by rail, road (there is one road in) or large boat and then be transferred to smaller barges or boats to taken down the canals and then off loaded again. If you live away from a canal in one of the back-alleys then guys with carts push everything down the narrow calle to your back door. The food, bottled water, goods of all varieties – everything for daily life – must come in this way. The waste and rubbish then has to go out the other way. Your rubbish is collected every morning from the calle outside your apartment – that’s a daily waste collection from the whole city!. I know “goods in, waste out” must go on in every city but somehow it is all the more impressive a system if there is no roads and everything must go onto the water. I admit I got a bit obsessed with the thought that Venice must be a great case study of the environmental impact of a city.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy a little glimpse of the lives of the people of Venice and if your Venetian yourself then let us know what the reality of living and working in the city is like – and thanks – you make a great job of making people welcome.