Sinking Venice: At the Dying Beauty’s Bedside


Fairest among women, Venice, formerly powerful and rich. You are still impressive, Lady Venice, but only from a distance.

The years pass rapidly, your skin withers, becomes more parched and thin, and finally drops off in lumps of plaster. Meanwhile, just as time ages all women, water wears on you more and more with every year, and your cosmetologist is already losing his patience in despair. There are plenty of younger potential clients around.

Year after year, your population decreases by several thousands. Those remaining try to retrieve the last profit from your former glory, setting unthinkable prices for half an hour’s travel on a gondola along the muddy channels, singing songs for your guests, blowing glassware for them, and carefully bringing the organized tourists to the places which still preserve their facades. Such and such person once lived here and there. Notice, not “live now,” but “once lived.”

A nasty damp mold creeps up from the stairs to the gorgeous snow-white marble of your Procuration building, and no cosmetic aids are able to stop it, because it has powerful allies—time and salty humidity.

You are trying to reanimate your former glory. You organized the carnival, but time and water are inexorable. A curious traveller needs only to get off the beaten touristic paths to see another side of sinking Venice. Your teeth are crippled by age and the sea, and there is no more strength, money, or desire to renew them. But even with all of this, your atmosphere is still filled with charm.

People flatter you, Lady Venice, admire you, but you understand that it’s only out of courtesy, because to admire you is fashionable. You know for sure the past is dead. You sadly look at everyone from the height of your greatness, but still take the compliments–because you are a Woman and will be a Woman even under forty meters of turbid and salty water.

You still cook wonderfully, and are happy not only to feed your loyal admirers, but to feed them tasty fare. You are a real Italian.

You used to be one of the most beautiful and richest ladies in Europe, but Paris, Vienna, and Rome had better luck. They were not flooded twice a year, and their feet were standing not in a toxic green solution, while you struggled with this lagoon again and again. But there is a limit.


You see some remnants of the streets and walls of the great men: MycenaeBeng Mealea, and Machu Picchu, but what will you, sinking/dying Lady Venice, leave behind? Only water—and millions of pictures taken by several generations of admiring travellers.

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  • Venice has retained its charm, that's for sure.

  • I agree it's sad the state the city is in (in certain parts), still it's had a good run ( around 1300 years).

  • I hope too.

    Thank you, Sam.

  • I hope no one objects to your metaphor, which conveys both the beauty and the sadness of this once-great city today, as do your descriptions of the mold and marble, the cuisine and the creeping water. 

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