For our (many) foreign friends
What is “25 April”? We are a group of venetians, “native” and not (venetians by choice, in all cases) and the group has been steadily increasingly its numbers from the 75 founders to more than 2,000 today. Whoever truly loves Venice is welcome here, irrespective of nationality and religion: this has always been the strenght of Venice, since the middle age: its capacity to attract the best energies from all over the Mediterranean Sea.
Why are we creating this blog, and why now? Venice already has the status of “world heritage” but until now this was interpreted as a mere duty to protect its stones. Our view is that without people living in the lagoon and preserving their houses, their special skills and that very fragile environment, such stones will collapse as an empty shell.
Like native indians in America (in the 19th century) we now risk being forced out of our environment, and this is what happened already to almost 100.000 native venetians in the past 60 years: “forced” out of the lagoon, to live “on the other side of the bridge” (the mainland) because of the cost of living and the lack of appropriate job opportunities: Venice is so successfully attractive as a tourist destination that prices have rocketed to sky and the only jobs available risk being those related to the one industry of mass tourism, which are not remunerated enough to afford living in the houses where our parents and grandparents used to live: those houses which were built on water hundreds of years ago and survived to everything, until now. This is not what we dream for our children: being a waiter in a restaurant, or having to move somewhere else.
How to define a “venetian”? It is not an issue of identity card but of lifestyle. For instance, Irish people around the world still celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. In the very same way, venetians are proud of celebrating St. Mark’s Day. The tradition wants that every venetian gentleman (native or not native, living abroad or not) on this day offers a single red rose – one and only one, to mean that the woman who is offered the rose is unique – to their wife or girlfriend. The young boys do the same, to their mother or sister. In venetian language, such rose is called “il bocolo”.
This new blog is the red rose we are offering to the city we love. Because this city can be loved or hated, but when you love it you love it.
Happy St. Mark’s Day, to you all, wherever you live and wherever you were born.