walking with Venetians

Submitted by Lottie on Wed, 2010-08-25 11:56

Walking with Venetians Elena and Luca

Elena is Venetian born and bred, she kindly agreed to meet me and share her ways and views of Venice. We walked together and she told me that growing up in Venice had it’s disadvantages. For children there were few places to play and for teenagers, getting together and hanging out was problematic. She said the city shuts down at 10pm there are laws about noise and it’s locked down in a way that’s not conducive to teenage use of public space. There was one Campo (square) she said, where she and her friends could go, to be together and talk in Castello. In other campo people who lived there would call the police with accusations of drug taking if a group of young people came together. She told me that Venice is changing and there are certain places now, where its not so safe for children to play independently, she perceived this as linked to the presence of more migrants, but later reflected that she didn’t want to start mistrusting anyone as the culture of trust and shared public space is such a valuable characteristic of Venice. She said that in Venice it’s hard for young people to find work and to get contracts on flats to live in. The Venetian dialect is an important indicator – her parents didn’t want her to speak it while she was growing up, she says it is, though, an important part of Venetian culture and she doesn’t want to loose it, even though she doesn’t speak it very often.

I walked with Luca, an architect who has lived in Venice for 12 years. He shared his enthusiasm for noticing and tracing the meanings and histories of architectural features – he said ‘if you look and if you’re interested you can learn so much from looking at the buildings.’ He gave me, what I consider to be, a key to Venetian living –the slalom. People who live and work here have to move about quickly but tourists stop and wander around making this hard. He says one learns to read the body language of those around you, you can see the subtle signs that show you the person on front of you is going to stop, turn left or right, one needs to read the signs and become fast at ducking and diving so as to keep moving. Another person I interviewed said that in Venice your body is your car, your engine, everything. Luca reflected on the value to him of the streets, squares and alleys being walked by everyone from every social class. Here everyone walks, no one is ensconced inside a car, so people can bump into each other in the street, he feels it creates a different kind of equality.