Chủ Nhật, Tháng Tư 14, 2024
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Venice – Not drowning but suffocating (Part III)

Venice – Not drowning but suffocating (Part I)

Venice – Not drowning but suffocating (Part II)

[Readingg level: C2 – Mastery]

Just off the Rialto is one of Venice’s best-known shops, Mascari. It is an upmarket delicatessen with ground spices piled on brass trays in the window, a huge selection of local chocolates, candied fruits, honey, gourmet mustard and a wine cellar with hundreds of mainly local wines. But the owner is in a dour mood. Venice, he says, is a “Disneyland”. That’s unfair. Disneyland is sterile and fake, but it is also well run. It separates tourists from their money quickly and efficiently. Venice does so slowly and badly. The average tourist in Venice contributes only €3 in taxes.


The proper pricing of public space could cut overcrowding and raise revenues to pay for essential activities such as dredging the canals and to subsidize the cultural activities that high-end tourists want. Buses already pay up to €650 to deposit tourists at the end of the causeway to the main island, but this is nowhere near enough to limit numbers to a reasonable level and raise the revenues Venice needs.


Citizens’ groups campaign for the “Venice Pass”, which would be a ticket for the entire city, paid on entry. This would both increase the city’s income and deter the least enthusiastic. There is precedent for this system. The Cinque Terre, a popular Italian coastal region consisting of scenic villages linked by narrow footpaths, has introduced a tourist ticket. A less radical option – turning the area around the Rialto, the Accademia and St Mark’s into a museum with paid entry – would encourage visitors to venture farther afield, to less crowded bits of the old city, or even to the tranquil islands of the lagoon, such as San Lazzaro degli Armeni, an exquisite if barely accessible Armenian monastery. But souvenir sellers, gondolas, water-taxis and some hotels and restaurants want no limits to the crowds. Running the city at over-capacity is too lucrative.


Though nobody publicly supports overcrowding, institutional lassitude and powerful interest groups make it hard for the government to get to grips with the city’s problems. It took ten years, for instance, to get rid of a dozen hawkers selling pigeon feed on St Mark’s Square. Two were given city-owned shops to run; the others were paid off at a rate of €80,000 each. Dealing with bigger interest groups – such as the 550 gondoliers and 1,000 water-taxi operators – requires a level of political will which the municipality cannot muster. For trying to curb the size, numbers and spread of the bancarelle, which are owned by well-off Venetians but staffed mostly by South Asians, the mayor was called a fascist and racist. It does not help that Venice and Mestre, the larger and more industrial district on the mainland, are governed together, for their interests do not always coincide. Cruise ships, for instance, are good for Mestre and bad for Venice. Splitting Venice from Mestre – the subject of the referendum in October – could, just possibly, give the islands’ long-suffering inhabitants a chance to improve the city’s prospects by curbing the greedy behaviour of the tourism business, limiting numbers and pricing public space properly.


In the cool reception of the Danieli, the hotel’s marble columns are stained by the acqua alta (high tide), creeping ever-higher as the city sinks and the water-level rises (yet another one of the city’s daunting problems). The frothy, multicoloured glass of the enormous chandeliers, the exquisite cocktails and the antique furniture epitomize the Venice of the visitor’s dreams. De’ Medici, the hotel’s manager, weighs every word when asked to describe the city’s plight. He sums it up obliquely as “a cultural contradiction”. Pressed to elucidate, he gives an all-too-Italian explanation: “Everyone is fed up with the mess but scared to take a politically incorrect decision.” The hopes of Venetians, and Venetophiles the world over, hang on the vote in October.




upmarket /ˌʌpˈmɑː.kɪt/ (adj): thượng hạng

delicatessen /ˌdel.ɪ.kəˈtes.ən/ (n): cửa hàng bán đặc sản

spice /spaɪs/ (n): gia vị

pile /paɪl/ (v): chất đống

brass /brɑːs/ (n): đồng thau

tray /treɪ/ (n): cái khay

gourmet /ˈɡɔː.meɪ/ (adj): thượng hạng, dành cho người sành ăn

cellar /ˈsel.ər/ (n): hầm

dour /dʊər/ (adj): (tâm trạng, biểu cảm) không thân thiện, buồn bã và nghiêm nghị

sterile /ˈster.aɪl/ (adj): khô khan

dredge /dredʒ/ (v): nạo vét

subsidize /ˈsʌb.sɪ.daɪz/ (v): trợ cấp

high-end /ˌhaɪˈend/ (adj): cao cấp

causeway /ˈkɔːz.weɪ/ (n): đường dẫn

precedent /ˈpres.ɪ.dənt/ [C2] (n): tiền lệ

scenic /ˈsiː.nɪk/ [C1] (adj): thuộc về danh lam thắng cảnh

radical /ˈræd.ɪ.kəl/ [C2] (adj): triệt để

venture /ˈven.tʃər/ [C2] (n, v): khám phá, mạo hiểm

(further/farther) afield /əˈfiːld/ (adv): xa hơn

tranquil /ˈtræŋ.kwɪl/ [C1] (adj): yên bình

lagoon /ləˈɡuːn/ (n): đầm phá

exquisite /ɪkˈskwɪz.ɪt/ [C2] (adj): tinh tế

accessible /əkˈses.ə.bəl/ [B2] (adj): có thể tiếp cận được

monastery /ˈmɒn.ə.stri/ (adj): tu viện

lucrative /ˈluː.krə.tɪv/ [C2] (adj): có lợi, nhiều lợi nhuận

institutional /ˌɪn.stɪˈtʃuː.ʃən.əl/ (adj): thuộc về thể chế

lassitude /ˈlæs.ɪ.tʃuːd/ (n): sự chậm chạp

municipality /mjuːˌnɪs.ɪˈpæl.ə.ti/ (n): thành phố

muster /ˈmʌs.tər/ (v): tập hợp, hội tụ

well-off /ˌwel ˈɒf/ [C1] (adj): khá giả

mayor /meər/ [B2] (n): thị trưởng

fascist /ˈfæʃ.ɪst/ (n): tên phát xít

racist /ˈreɪ.sɪst/ [C2] (n): kẻ phân biệt chủng tộc

coincide /ˌkəʊ.ɪnˈsaɪd/ [C2] (v): trùng khớp

greedy /ˈɡriː.di/ [B2] (adj): tham lam

marble /ˈmɑː.bəl/ (n): đá cẩm thạch

stain /steɪn/ [C2] (v): nhuộm trắng

chandelier /ˌʃæn.dəˈlɪər/ (n): đèn chùm

antique /ænˈtiːk/ [B1] (adj): cổ điển

epitomize /ɪˈpɪt.ə.maɪz/ (v): làm toát lên, làm nổi lên (vẻ đẹp)

plight /plaɪt/ [C2] (n): cảnh ngộ

obliquely /əˈblːkˌli/ (adv): một cách mơ hồ

elucidate /iˈluː.sɪ.deɪt/ (v): làm sáng tỏ


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