Venice – Not drowning but suffocating (Part II)

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Venice – Not drowning but suffocating (Part I)

Venice – Not drowning but suffocating (Part III)

St Mark’s Square is the “drawing room” of Venice, says Antonello de’ Medici, manager of the Danieli hotel. A well-heeled tourist can have a coffee at Florian’s – €10 ($11) for a cappuccino – sitting at tables once patronized by Casanova, Wagner and Hemingway. It is worth it just for the choreography: drinks and food are served on silver trays, carried above the waiter’s shoulder to make the most of the crowded space. The rectangular tables in the ladies’ lounge rotate in order to make it easier for customers wearing crinolines to ease their way onto the banquettes. But Florian’s is too pricey for most visitors. Why spend money in an expensive café when you can buy a snack in a supermarket on the mainland?

 

Venice’s concentrated beauty is its undoing. Many tourists come just to glimpse its remarkable cityscape. They do not ask for entertainment or comfort: since the best things in Venice are free, there is no need to spend money on anything else. They do not linger: many want only to visit St Mark’s Square and be photographed in front of the Basilica. Of the 25m visitors every year, 12m are day-trippers.

 

For tourists on tight budgets, this is an entirely sensible approach. For the city, it is disastrous. It means more people for less revenue, and drags Venice into a down-market spiral. So St Mark’s Square is jammed with day-trippers and dotted with bancarelle – souvenir stands – and unlicensed hawkers of flowers, toys and even pigeon seed (a menace, given how avian excrement damages the old buildings). A scruffy noticeboard, barely visible under stickers, chewing gum and grime, asks tourists to behave respectfully and not to picnic on the steps. Nobody pays much notice.

 

Overcrowding deters the most valuable visitors. The bigger the low-budget crowds, the less attractive the place becomes for the high spenders. Top-end tourists do not want to struggle through the crowds to go to the opera or a gallery.

 

The crush does not just spoil the visitor experience; it also crowds out the locals. In the fish market beside the Rialto, where seafood is heaped high on piles of crushed ice, empty spaces outnumber the stalls. Nino Zane, the owner of Ittica Zane, says bleakly: “I have no hope – in five years it will be gone – we are trying to enjoy what little we have left.” Six years ago there were ten merchants. Now there are six. Prices are lower on the mainland, he concedes, but the crowds are the main reason locals don’t come to the market. As he speaks, a gaggle of Japanese tourists comes into view, and queues, politely but firmly, in front of the stall in order to take first selfies, and then a series of group photos, against a background of eels, a colossal swordfish, octopus and crates of heaving, twitching squilla mantis – an outsized local shrimp, sold live.

 

Outside the Arsenale, an ancient military base just a few minutes’ walk from San Marco, Paolo Lanapoppi, a retired poetry professor, bemoans the collapse of the neighbourhood. The last bakery is about to go the way of the fish shops; the old retailers are being replaced by souvenir shops selling identical imported masks, glass trinkets and scarves. “It’s a cemetery,” he says.

 

Traditional restaurants cannot compete with tourist joints. You can give day-trippers frozen food heated up in a microwave: they won’t come back anyway, so there’s little point in taking the trouble to feed them well. Identikit eateries dot the pavements, with tourist menus offering pasta and pizza for €15 a head, wine included (all too often with hefty service, or “extra seafood” charges to trap the unwary).

 

Source: https://www.1843magazine.com/features/not-drowning-but-suffocating

WORD BANK:

well-heeled /ˌwel ˈhiːld/ (adj – informal): giàu có

patronize /ˈpæt.rə.naɪz/ (v): bảo trợ

choreography /ˌkɒr.iˈɒɡ.rə.fi/ (n): vũ đạo

make the most of sth (v): tận dụng tối đa cái gì

rectangular /rekˈtæŋ.ɡjə.lər/ [B2] (adj): hình chữ nhật

rotate /rəʊˈteɪt/ (v): xoay

crinoline /ˈkrɪn.əl.ɪn/ (n): váy rộng vành

ease /iːz/ (v): làm cho cái gì trở nên dễ dàng

pricey /ˈpraɪ.si/ (adj): đắt đỏ

undoing /ʌnˈduː.ɪŋ/ (n – formal): nguyên nhân thất bại

glimpse /ɡlɪmps/ (v): liếc nhìn

linger /ˈlɪŋ.ɡər/ [C2] (v): nán lại

Basilica /bəˈsɪl.ɪ.kə/ (n): Nhà thờ lớn

tight budget /taɪt ˈbʌdʒ.ɪt/ [B2] (n): ngân sách eo hẹp

sensible /ˈsen.sə.bəl/ [B1] (adj): hợp lý

disastrous /dɪˈzɑː.strəs/ [C1] (adj): mang tính thảm họa

revenue /ˈrev.ən.juː/ [C1] (n): doanh thu

drag sb/sth into sth (v): kéo ai/cái gì vào cái gì

down-market (n): thị trường bình dân

spiral /ˈspaɪə.rəl/ (n): vòng xoáy

hawker /ˈhɔː.kər/ (n): người bán hàng rong

menace /ˈmen.ɪs/ (n): mối đe dọa

avian excrement /ˈeɪ.vi.ən ˈek.skrə.mənt/ (n): phân chim, phân gia cầm

scruffy /ˈskrʌf.i/ [C2] (adj): sần sùi

grime /ɡraɪm/ (n): bụi bẩn

deter /dɪˈtɜːr/ (v): ngăn cản

struggle /ˈstrʌɡ.əl/ [B2] (v): vật lộn

heap /hiːp/ [C2] (v): chất đống, đống

bleakly /ˈbliːk.li/ (adv): một cách ảm đạm

concede /kənˈsiːd/ [C2] (v): thừa nhận

a gaggle /ˈɡæɡ.əl/ (n – informal): một nhóm

queue /kjuː/ [B1] (v): xếp hàng

firmly /ˈfɜːm.li/ [B2] (adv): một cách chắc chắn

eel /iːl/ (n): cá chình

colossal /kəˈlɒs.əl/ (adj): khổng lồ

crate /kreɪt/ (n): thùng (gỗ)

heaving /ˈhiː.vɪŋ/ (adj – informal): đông đúc

twitching /twɪtʃɪŋ/ (adj): co giật

squilla mantis /ˈmæn.tɪs/ (n): con bề bề

bemoan /bɪˈməʊn/ (v – formal): tiếc thương

identical /aɪˈden.tɪ.kəl/ [B2] (adj): giống hệt nhau

trinket /ˈtrɪŋ.kɪt/ (n): đồ trang sức

scarf /skɑːf/ (n): khăn quàng cổ

cemetery /ˈsem.ə.tri/ [B2] (n): nghĩa trang

eatery /ˈiː.tər.i/ (n – informal): quán ăn

hefty /ˈhef.ti/ (adj): khổng lồ

unwary /ʌnˈweə.ri/ (adj): bất đắc dĩ

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