Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Weird Venice is going to take a long Memorial Day break. We'll be back on or around May 27. Unfortunately, we're not heading to Venice, but...
according to the results of our recent poll (Even though the dollar keeps falling, are you still planning to go to Venice this year?), 56% of those who responded said, "To hell with the dollar, I wouldn't miss a trip to Venice for any reason!"
15% had the opposite reaction and voted for: "No, I'm staying close to home this year."
8% said they'd go if, "My lotto numbers are picked."
Another 8% said, they couldn't afford the gas they'd need to get to the airport.
And another 8% said they were waiting to see if things got better.
The rest of you were undecided.
THANKS to everyone who answered. Vote on the current poll today!
For those of us still at home, take a gondola ride via YouTube. I looked at a lot of the videos and really liked this one.
Enjoy and Ciao! for a few days.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
The "temporary" Accademia Bridge was opened to the public in 1933.
Now, nearly eight decades later, the original plan for a permanent stone bridge may finally be realized, according to Rumiz [Venice's public works councillor]. Municipal authorities have confirmed that bidding will open shortly on a contract for a new design and complete overhaul of the structure. ''Between the end of May and the start of June, we will open bidding on creating a new Ponte dell'Accademia,'' Ruiz told local daily La Nuova Venezia. ''The underlying iron structure will remain in place, as this is still perfectly sound. However, the entire outer covering of wood will be replaced, either by stone or perhaps with a metal alloy. We haven't decided which yet, as this is still being assessed''.(from ANSA.it)
What do you think? Vote in the "Your Turn" box in the sidebar.
I took the photo in February 2005. As you can tell, it was a rainy day on a crowded bridge.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Who Can Help Us Get More Webcams!!
It's pathetic. Venice is one of the most picturesque cities in the world and those of us who are not fortunate enough to live there are stuck with a few lousy webcams -- and they don't always work. So, come Venetian residents, give us more webcams. We'll help; just tell us how. Or won't some Venice-crazed tourist plant a webcam somewhere and tell us about it? I'll be happy to contribute to the cost.
GIVE US MORE WEBCAMS!!!
This photo is from the San Toma Grand Canal webcam -- none of the others seem to be working tonight and I'm not happy about it. Give us more webcams!
Friday, May 16, 2008
For Women Only: If you've been in Venice lately, your bottom may have been snapped. Yep, your bottom. Here's an article from ShortNews.com (the story is being reported on many news sites). I couldn't think of an appropriate photo, so I just posted a random shot that I took from the window of Ca' Vidal, which I rented from Views on Venice. (It's a fantastic apartment in a great location!)
Also, don't forget to take the poll on the sidebar -- is the dollar going to keep you at home? One last important thing: I finally got my Weird Venice to accept comments! So feel free to say hi or something.
Now, here's the article:
Man Arrested for Photographing 3,000 Bottoms Around Venice
A 38-year-old Italian man has been arrested after police became suspicious of him in Venice, Italy. The man was seen following women while carrying a large bag through St Mark's Square in the city.
After he was arrested, police found that he had been following the women so as to be able to take photos of their bottoms. He had taken some 3,000 pictures through a hole in the bag. He was charged with infringement of privacy.
During his arrest, the man confessed he had been photographing the bottoms of women in short skirts for around two years, generally when they bent to pick something up. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison.
Monday, May 12, 2008
According to the Venice city council, the ban on feeding pigeons is already working. The following article from ANSA.it explains it all. I took the photo in 2006 from the roof of the basilica and shows the piazza San Marco -- complete with pigeons, tourists and feed sellers. If the city council's plan works, this will be just a memory.
Venice pigeon population falls
City- wide ban on feeding birds working, council says
(ANSA) - Venice, May 12 -
Venice city council on Monday was celebrating the first sign that it may be winning its long battle against the city's population of pigeons, once described by mayor Massimo Cacciari as "flying rats".
According to city environment chief Pierantonio Belcaro, the number of pigeons flocking to St Mark's Square is already dropping after the council extended a bird feeding ban city-wide and forced the piazza's 19 licensed birdseed sellers to shut up shop.
"Revoking the licenses of the birdseed stalls and capturing ill birds are proving to be valid tools for the reduction of pigeon numbers, although solving the problem is likely to take two or three years." Belcaro said.
He added that on Monday a new council task force in charge of dealing with pigeons, mice and mosquitoes in the lagoon city had decided to draft in a bird of prey to help scare the pigeons away.
Falcons are already used in other Italian cities and airports to ward birds from monuments - which can be damaged by acidic guano - and prevent air strikes.
Venice has for years been trying to cut its estimated 40,000-strong pigeon population, which produces thousands of tonnes of droppings a day.
While many visitors to the lagoon city find its flocks of pigeons charming, the council says they are a public health menace and a nuisance, eroding the city's historic facades and statues.
Controversial efforts at controlling the pigeons have included trapping the birds in nets and removing them from the square.
Animal rights campaigners crossed swords with the council earlier this month following the eviction the birdseed sellers from St Mark's Square, accusing the city of a "shameful massacre" by hunger and distributing 30 kilos of birdseed to flocks of ravenous birds. Local people became less sympathetic to the pigeons' plight last year after a report by the Nomisma research group found that the presence of the birds in Venice costs each resident some 275 euros a year to clean up the mess and damage.
Some experts even claim the excrement, by eroding flagstones, has increased the risk of the "acqua alta" that puts the square under water for much of the winter.
Reducing the numbers of pigeons is just part of Venice's strategy to ensure the city stays clean and maintains its charm despite the presence of 20 million visitors a year.
Volunteer patrols of 'guardian angels' wander the city to prevent "indecorous behavior" among tourists, which the city has decided includes sitting on the pavement, eating sandwiches there or going bare-chested.
The city is working on laws to stop the sale of fast food in St Mark's Square so as to limit the amount of rubbish that accumulates there and which street cleaners can only remove once a day.
On Monday the council said it is also planning to fine beggars up to 500 euros, and confiscate their day's takings, if they are caught asking for money in tourist areas of the city.
The dollar / job situation has forced me to rethink my plans to go back to Venice later this year. I'm wondering if anyone else is having second thoughts. Take to poll on the sidebar and let us know!
I took this photo on one of my first trips to Venice. The colors are a bit washed out because it's a negative (yes, my first trip was pre-digital!) and I've been converting them to digital.
Sunday, May 04, 2008
There are two things that most people going to Venice want to know: what's the weather like and how far will my money take me? In an attempt to answer both questions, I've added a weather report and currency monitor to the sidebar. Keep an eye on them -- and hope for good reports!
Pigeons in Piazza San Marco
A ban on feeding Venice’s pigeons took effect Wednesday, May 1. Nineteen pigeon-feed sellers on St. Mark's Square immediately went out of business. They had long been granted licenses to sell dried corn to tourists wanting to feed the pigeons and take photos of themselves covered with the birds.
A spokeswoman in Venice says people who feed the pigeons face fines the equivalent of about $80 to $775.
According to a story on the Canadian Press website, the people who profited from the pigeons were not happy. “The pigeon-feed sellers, who say they have been selling their wares on St. Mark’s Square for a century, are up in arms and protested the ban with placards on their booths aimed at the mayor, including: ‘Curse the day I voted for you’ and ‘Cacciari, what kind of Venetian are you?’”
No one knows for sure how many pigeons live in Venice’s 6.5 square kilometers, but the city estimates there are 40,000. About one-third of them pass through St. Mark's Square on any given day, according to environmental officials.
According to the following story from ANSA.it, the ban is not going over very well. The animal rights people distributed illegal feed to hungry pigeons:
Venice pigeon feeding ban flouted
(ANSA) - Venice, May 2 - Animal rights campaigners in Venice crossed swords with the city council on Friday after distributing 30 kilos of birdseed to flocks of ravenous pigeons in St Mark's Square.
The birds had gone hungry for two days after the age-old tourist tradition of feeding the pigeons in the picturesque square came to an abrupt end.
Although feeding the pigeons has long been outlawed in other parts of the lagoon city, on Wednesday Mayor Massimo Cacciari won his battle to extend the ban city-wide and force the square's 19 licensed birdseed sellers to shut up shop.
Animal rights campaigners said they were feeding the birds on Friday in an effort to stop ''the shameful massacre of the animals through hunger and capture''.
''Pigeons have lived in Venice for centuries and they have a close link with its history, its traditions and its residents: they are one of (the city's) best-known symbols around the world,'' said Cristina Romieri of the Italian Vegetarian Association.
''Now with unjustifiable alarmism the council wants to exterminate them by starving them, ignoring civilised and valid alternative methods like the administration of contraceptive medicine,'' she added.
Tourists, including children, helped the animal rights campaigners distribute the seed in the square but the morning's feeding frenzy failed to capture the attention of the municipal police.
Venice has for years been trying to cut its estimated 40,000-strong pigeon population which produces thousands of tonnes of droppings a day.
While many visitors to the lagoon city find its soaring flocks of pigeons charming, the council says they are a public health menace and a nuisance, eroding the city's historic facades and statues with their highly acidic guano.
Controversial efforts at controlling the pigeons - which Cacciari describes as ''flying rats'' - have included trapping the birds in nets and removing them from the square.
''The city council has been trying to reduce the number of birds for ten years through continuous, violent capture and indiscriminate killing, which adults and children are forced to watch,'' Romieri said.
''Every year around 20,000 pigeons are killed, at a collective cost of 850,000 euros. ''It's an unacceptable, costly and ineffective method rejected by the scientific world: the surviving pigeons continue to reproduce, finding more space and food at their disposal,'' she added.
The evicted birdseed vendors are also unhappy with the council's methods and are seeking 150 euros per day as compensation for their lost jobs.
Failing that, they want the council to issue them with permits to sell souvenirs on the square.
Local people became less sympathetic to the plight of both vendors and birds after a report by the Nomisma research group found that the presence of pigeons in Venice costs each resident some 275 euros a year to clean up the mess and damage.
Some experts even claim the excrement, by eroding flagstones, has increased the risk of the 'acqua alta' that puts the square under water for much of the winter.
The city recently banned the tradition of showering newly-wed couples with rice as part of its bid to tackle the pigeon menace.
Scenes like the one shown in the photo I took a few years ago, will disappear if the pigeons are gone. Or, will the voracious seagulls replace the pigeons? Tip: if you click on the photo, you get a super-sized version and can see all the details.