June 13, 2021

Venice again threatened by the “grandi navi”

LETTER FROM VENICE

A woman dressed in blue standing on a boat, oar in hand, seeming to defy a monstrous building floating in the midst of the haze of smoke … Of course, this is only a snapshot, an isolated detail in the middle of a gigantic moving scene. Moreover, logically the scene should have gone unnoticed, in the midst of the confusion that reigned on the Giudecca Canal on Saturday 5 June at 4.30 p.m., while the gigantic MSC Orchestra (92,000 tons and 294 meters long) was advancing in slow motion and under boos towards Saint Mark’s Square, signaling the return of the giant cruise ships which had deserted the center of Venice since the start of the pandemic, there at seventeen months.

But now, this tiny moment of truth was immortalized by a photographer and lover of the lagoon, the engineer Michele Gallucci, who lives aboard a small sailing boat moored on the island of Certosa, north of the ‘arsenal. Then his striking image was disseminated on social networks, as the best illustration of the anger that gripped many Venetians when they observed, once again, that the multiple government announcements of the last few months had failed. will have served no purpose.

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Environmental devastation

It must be said that this angry woman is no stranger. Born fifty-five years ago in South Africa, Jane Da Mosto is a biologist and has lived for a quarter of a century in the center of Venice. She founded a very dynamic association there, We Are Here Venice, and is also an activist within an international network of activists opposed to large cruise ships, the Global Cruise Activist Network, which fights against the environmental ravages caused by these monsters. seas, which are far from being rife only in the lagoon of Venice.

“In fact, I am not alone in the boat, but the other rower is hidden by a panel, so that we cannot see him, she explains. When the photograph was taken, I was trying to catch someone’s gaze on the bridge, to make contact. But I didn’t succeed… ”

Trying to start a dialogue with the passengers and crew of these behemoths to make them understand that cruise ships are not welcome in the Venice lagoon, this is the recurring objective of the demonstrations launched by the No grandi navi committee. since 2011. Dangerous for the terribly fragile heritage of the city (one of these large ships collided with the Zattere quay on June 2, 2019, following a technical problem, causing a great fright to the inhabitants), extremely polluting and symbolic of a mass tourism which threatens to engulf the whole of Venice, the ships of cruises do not have good press, and undoubtedly tarnish the image of the city.

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