Well, as you know, I prefer this site to be about books, music, food, Venice and all sorts of light-hearted nonsense. However, I think it would be wrong of me not to write about what happened to Venice during this past week.
Firstly, a very big thank you to all those who got in touch to ask how we were. The reality, as some of you will know, is that we were actually on holiday during the event itself. We returned on the Friday, just after the second wave of extreme acqua alta and before the third wave on Sunday (which, although extremely severe, was thankfully less than the 160cm predicted).
We’re fine. We live on the second floor, so the apartment was unaffected, and Mimì was being looked after by our Brilliant Scottish Friends (who chose one hell of a couple of weeks to come and cat-sit).
So, as I said, we’re fine. Many, however, are not. We personally know a number of people whose properties and businesses have been utterly, completely trashed. I’ve frequently been annoyed in the past by the UK press reporting the slightest sign of acqua alta in Piazza San Marco in hushed, apocalyptic tones. But there is no exaggerating what happened last week. It was, by any reasonably definition, a disaster. The city has taken a beating. It’s going to take some time to assess exactly what the damage is, and even longer for the city to get back to normal (whatever ‘normal’ means in Venice).
Yet, in the midst of all this, there’s been some genuinely wonderful stuff happening. I’ll mention the ‘mud angels’ who’ve volunteered to clear up, many of whom are young people of school age and many of whom, I am sure, I have taught. I am very, very proud of them.
I think that’s about as much as I can, or should, say. There are plenty of other accounts out there written by people who were actually here during the event, and they’ve described what happened better than I could. Too many to mention really, but you could start by looking at the Twitter accounts of Luisella Romeo, Monica Cesarato and Gregory Dowling as a a starting point for articles and personal reflections. (And if I’ve missed anyone, I do apologise).
I would like to say a huge thank you to those of you who have got in touch asking how they can help. Well, if you really are able to help directly, you could perhaps look at a couple of Facebook groups such as :-
– AIUTI CONCRETI AI VENEZIANI (https://www.facebook.com/groups/398803031002099/?ref=share)
– Venice Calls (https://www.facebook.com/VeniceCalls2018/)
If you wish to donate, there are any number of appeals running out there. I will just mention one, for the Querini Stampalia – it’s one of my very favourite buildings in Venice, and close to my heart as I wrote most of “The Venetian Masquerade” there. If you’re able to help them in any way at all I’d be enormously grateful :-
And if you can’t manage either of those, well – if you happen to be visiting – just tread lightly. The city needs a bit of love right now. If you’re spending money in the shops, bars and restaurants – that will help. My favourite bar, “Corner Pub”, has been battered. When they’re open again, they’re going to need people to visit and buy Negronis. That sounds flippant, but it’s not meant to be.
I’ll finish by repeating my thanks to all those of you who’ve been in touch. It’s greatly appreciated.
The next posting, I sincerely hope, will be light-hearted nonsense again.