Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Coke is It -- In Venice

ANSA.it brings us the news that Venice is not selling out -- even as it agrees to a "partnership" with Coca-Cola
» 2009-02-23 14:13
Coca- Cola not 'buying' Venice
Mayor says partnership with drinks giant 'indispensable'
"(ANSA) - Venice, February 23 - Coca-Cola is not ''buying'' Venice, its city council said Monday, reacting to polemics over a planned million-dollar partnership between the drinks giant and the lagoon city.

Italian daily La Stampa reported Monday that the city was ''selling itself'' to Coca-Cola in a 2.1 million-dollar deal that will involve ''vending machines in every corner of the city'', including St Mark's Square, where tourists are forbidden from picnicking under strict council rules on urban decorum.

But Maurizio Calligaro, the council's chief of staff, said the 60 vending machines would not be placed on public soil, let alone near landmarks such as St Mark's.

''Fifteen distributors will be placed on the principal vaporetti landing stages, the others will be inside council car parks and in the limited traffic zone of the mainland. Where's the invasion?'' Calligaro said.

He also stressed that the vending machines would not bear the Coca-Cola logo, quashing rumours that the brand name would be plastered all over the city.

Venice Mayor Massimo Cacciari, who has long bemoaned a lack of state funds for the upkeep of city monuments and churches, said he was ''astounded'' by the polemics over the deal, adding that it was no different from others adopted in the past.

''This is a financial strategy that today is simply indispensable for safeguarding our monuments and artistic heritage and is in line with culture ministry guidelines,'' Cacciari said.

''It follows a strategy we've adopted with other equally prestigious collaborators - Lancia for the restoration of the Ducal Palace, Swatch for the Biblioteca Marciana, Replay for Ca' Rezzonico and Bulgari for the Scala d'Oro''.

The mayor added that the idea that Venice could be safeguarded ''by philanthropy alone'' was unrealistic.

''These idealists who protest against strategies such as (the Coca Cola deal), which by now have been adopted in all the cities of the world, should have the good taste to indicate an alternative, or, even better, provide for the needs of the city from their own pockets,'' he said.

Cacciari last month warned that Venice's monuments and churches risked falling into ruin because too much state aid is being directed into a controversial project to protect the lagoon city from sinking.

The experimental 4.3 billion-euro Moses scheme is scheduled to come into action in 2014 and involves moveable flood barriers that rise from the seabed to block the lagoon from the Adriatic Sea when high tides are forecast.

A longstanding opponent of the costly scheme, Cacciari has warned that there are no guarantees that it will work."

This photo shows one of my preferred drinks in Venice.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

AMEX Gone From Venice

According to the excellent newsletter/blog/travel service, Dream of Italy:

American Express has closed its offices in Venice's Piazza San Marco and near the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, but blame the closings on high rents rather than fewer travelers.

I took the photo in 2007. It's one of the thousands of photos I have of San Marco! Be sure to click on the photo to see it in its full digital glory. I'm always amazed--it makes me feel like I'm standing in San Marco. If you can't be there in person, be there in digital...