Friday, June 21, 2013

A "minimum stay" in Venice

I just returned from a month in Venice just in time for the summer solstice; also just in time to kind of  see the supermoon through the clouds.  Nonna Wilma went into the hospital the day I left to get her knee replaced (it all went well).
I got back to my castle (and to some major lawn mowing) so I can spend more time with Nick this summer, to get him ready to attend his first class at WPI this fall, now that he has met some of the "cool" faculty in the music department, like Fred Bianchi and Vincent Manzo.  I hope this is a turning point for him on this summer solstice, the longest and brightest day of the year...

It was a short but intense visit, and I managed spend quality time with a lot of friends and family.
First I went to see Adrian, Ksenyia, Masha, Kiril and Karen Hewitt in Oxford, while I presented StreetBump at the UDMS conference at UCL.  Enegence is doing well as one of the few applications that utilize City Knowledge concepts.
Between May and June, Nancy Mithlo spent a couple of weeks in Venice showcasing Indian artists at the Air, Land, Seed exhibit for the 2013 Biennale.  It was great to see my dear friend at work with her native american colleagues in my hometown.
The day Nancy left, another dear friend (and dean/boss) Rick Vaz arrived with his significant other (and our esteemed colleague) Chrys Demetry's for a very quick visit.  Rick was a major supporter of the early years of the WPI Venice Project Center, but he had been missing from Venice for a whole decade.  We quickly made up for his long absence by embarking on a whirlwind eno/gastronomic tour of Padania, hitting all the best restaurants in Verona, Mantua, Parma and Modena.  I was forced to give up my vegetarian ways for three days and I obliged unreluctantly.
When Rick and Chrys left, I was finally able to spend a night or two with my other dear friends Barb and Frank Aguilera who were my surrogate parents in my MIT years and were in Venice with their childhood friends Emmie and Bill Smith (of Gorky Park's fame), who are working on a book based in Venice (spoiler alert).
Finally, with less than a week left, I spent some quality time with my mom, who turned 76 on June 18, and with my dad, who quit smoking after 65 years of Marlboros, so he can actually breathe again and may someday be able to visit me in the rarified atmosphere, 2,500 meters up, in Santa Fe. I even squeezed in a visit to a furniture store near Treviso with my sister to see the Bulthaup kitchen of my dream, who was moved by sheer pity for my continuing lack of a furniture in my minimalistic abode in Sant'Elena...
I also did manage to do some work in Venice...  which I will write about separately.

This is the first time I came back from Venice so quickly.  I would have stayed longer if I didn't feel compelled to be with Nick as long as possible, but I have been returning earlier and earlier every summer, primarily because of the hordes of tourists clogging up every nook and cranny of my beloved hometown.

Something needs to be done about the "human flood" as I have been advocating for years.  I am beginning to think that one action that may work is to institute a "minimum stay" requirement of at least 2 nights in a hotel or B&B in the historic center as a "ticket" to access the privilege of visiting a sacred space like Venice.  One could pay an equivalent entry fee and stay less, but this "minimum stay rule" would discourage the eat-and-run (mordi e fuggi) tourism that is making it harder and harder for us local Venetians to call our city "home".  Sounds like a good deal to me.  A win-win all around.  We would be "forcing" tourists to stay longer and linger in venetian time (go ahead! twist my arm!)... and Venetians would not be forced to "minimize" their own stay, as I have been doing lately.

This way, we can all be Venetians and enjoy each other's company...
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