Anger management

This is how a gondolino is supposed to look.

This is how a gondolino is supposed to look.  These men and this boat have no connection to the story below.

Just when I had concluded that there was nothing different or interesting to say about Venice, just when I thought life here was going to continue to grind deeper and deeper into its rut (same old problems, same old remarks, same old endless cycle of birth and rebirth), comes a blast of rage from person or persons yet to be identified.

Whoever they were, they trashed 7 of the gondolinos belonging to the city, discovered just today on the last day of the gondolino eliminations for the Regata Storica.  The “Storica,” as you know, is the ultimate race, and it is conducted aboard the gondolinos.  There is a total of 9, plus the reserve boat.  Three boats, which were in another place and therefore escaped the axe murderer(s), weren’t much to work with for the eliminations today, but the nine two-man crews were divided into three sets of three, and extra time was eaten up with the removing and re-installing of the forcolas of each rower at each change.  The mayor has tweeted that the boats will be repaired in time for the race on Sept. 4.  Five boatyards have thrown themselves into the work.

Photos taken from

Photos taken from

9.jpg gondolino USE

10.jpg gondolino USE


8.jpg gondolino

Who would do such a thing?  Plenty of police are working to find out.  But who would WANT to do it? Who indeed? It might be disaffected office-seekers, or environmentalists protesting deforestation, or people who want Jodie Foster to fall in love with them, or anything.

There has been tension in the rowing world recently, it’s true.  But until all the dust has settled, and been left there as long as I usually leave it anywhere, and then finally Pledged away, I’m not going to start theorizing.

I can mention, however, that a sense of anarchy stretching beyond the world of rowing seems to be threatening what ought to be well-earned somnolence in the city.  Tourists keep trying to swim in the Grand Canal.  A New Zealander, one of the crew of a yacht in port, got drunk a few nights ago, jumped off the Rialto Bridge, and landed right on the windshield of a water taxi passing below. The mariner is in the hospital in very bad condition, and the taxi is also in the shop.

Here is a recent video from Roberta Chiarotto, on her Facebook page

We see some young people in their bathing suits in Campo San Vio, heading for a refreshing dip.  The voice of the Venetian woman reprimanding them, in English and German, basically says “This isn’t Disneyland, it’s a city.  You can’t do this.”  For those (like Lino) who remember swimming in the canals as little tykes — naked, learning to swim tied to their mother’s washboard — may I say that there was less dangerous traffic then, and by the way, they were merely little tykes.  Healthy full-grown hominids who are not in their own back yards should be aware, if only dimly, of the appropriateness of some behavior. If in doubt, I’d suggest “Don’t.”

What amazes me is how tranquilly these visitors receive this unwelcome news, and how unconvinced they look. And they’re not an isolated case; a few weeks ago, five young French tourists took the plunge in the Grand Canal in front of City Hall, no less.  I won’t continue this list, because however many times I might mention it, I still can’t believe it.  And it seems to have no effect.

Once again driven to distraction, some exasperated resident recently snapped, posting a sign near Campo San Martin:

Needs no translation. It was removed not long afterward but a local shopkeeper did say he could understand it. The bridges are often full of people wandering at random, stopping, taking pictures... None of which is a hanging offense, but their obliviousness to anyone but themselves must have some fancy scientific name. The point isn't that they're tourists, it's that they're not aware that they're in somebody else's city. Of course you can argue that Venice belongs to the world, but I invite you to defend that idea at certain points in the city all summer long. And at other times, too.

Needs no translation. It was removed not long afterward, but a local shopkeeper did say he could understand it. The bridges are often full of people wandering at random, stopping, taking pictures… None of which is a hanging offense, but their obliviousness to anyone but themselves must have some fancy scientific name. The point isn’t that they’re tourists, it’s that they’re not aware that they’re in somebody else’s city. Of course you can argue that Venice belongs to the world, but that doesn’t mean the world has to come and stand on your bridge.

On a more serious but equally anarchic note, two nights ago there was a nearly fatal collision in the lagoon (that’s good news, considering that at least once a summer there is a completely fatal collision to report).  A motorboat being driven at high speed — that’s redundant, pretty much all motorboats are driven at high speed in the lagoon — ran right straight into a passing water taxi. The motorboat sank, the ambulance came, the two young men are in the hospital and the girl escaped unharmed. The high-spirited young folks had been zooming along with no lights on their boat, lights which are not only required by law but which common sense reveals would have at least given the taxi driver some hint as to their imminent arrival.

My point is that a great deal of anarchy can be tolerated, for many reasons, as long as nothing happens, which is what everybody is counting on.  And then something happens.  Like ramming a taxi.

Consequences can be so unpleasant.  And they follow deeds with such annoying persistence.

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Categories : Venetian-ness


  1. Sean says:

    This was a pretty calculated act. From the crime photos, one can see the straight smooth cuts and sawdust indicating that the vandal(s) used power tools. Those things make noise. Was nobody on watch and awake?

    • Erla Zwingle says:

      There aren’t a lot of people nearby, though the owner of the nearby marina allowed as how he heard his German shepherd guard dog barking around 3:00 AM. Why you would have a guard dog that barks, but not be inclined to go see what the reason was, escapes my feeble logic. Perhaps he thinks the barking alone will scatter evildoers.
      In any case, if you go to Google Maps, Earth View, and seek “Malamocco,” you will find an accurate (obviously) aerial view of the entire zone. The city boatyard is slightly to the north of the village itself; just across the road from “Farmacia San Sebastiano di Coriolani Salvatrice” you see, on the lagoon side, a white rectangle containing four oblong buildings and a separate, geodesic-dome tent structure. That’s where the boats in question were being kept. You also see that most of the land on that part of the lagoon side of the Lido is dedicated to big, dirty, noisy operations (such as a sand and gravel purveyor), who are not there at night. And who evidently have not ever thought that a guard was necessary.
      Everybody agrees that not only was it calculated, it was clearly the work of someone who was familiar with the set-up there. And who came by water.

      • Sean says:

        Checked out the Google Earth image you directed me to and can see the dome with some colorful watercraft (possibly gondolas/-inos) stored outside at the time of this flyover. I agree with you, from the set-up, the perp was very familiar with area.

        This isn’t the usual stunt a couple of booze-addled youngsters are likely to pull (a la Ryan Lochte). What kind of a local social/political statement is being made by trashing these boats?

        • Erla Zwingle says:

          The colorful boats were a series of old city-owned boats on their way to oblivion, just left out in the rain till anybody decides what, if anything, ever to do with them. I’m paying close attention to this situation; there is good reason to believe that the police are either closing in on the culprit(s), or have identified him/them and are waiting (probably till after the Regata Storica on Sept. 4) to spring the news. I have my own theory and am extremely curious to see if I was right. Not exactly like watching to see if I hit any winning lottery numbers, of course. This much stupid is bad for my skin.

          • Sean says:

            Please keep us posted. The culprit(s) motivation could be a good story and, even better, the cause of a classic Erla rant. 😂👌🏼

  2. Mark says:

    Ditto what Sean says above.
    When friends or acquaintances ask our advice upon embarking on their first trip abroad, we start and end with a reminder that they are guests in someone else’s home town. If in doubt, err on the cautious side in manners, speech (learn the conditional tense!), clothing; say please and thank you, and don’t be loud; learn/order/enjoy/compliment the local cuisine; learn the local history so you appreciate what you are seeing.
    The rest of the world isn’t a tourist’s playground.
    Venice is not Venice Beach.
    And then, of course, I try not to be one of those tourists who is annoyed by the presence of other tourists. Blush!

  3. Nancy says:

    Can I be an unobtrusive tourist?!! I wish. Ditto Mark.
    As for obtrusively inconsiderate and abusive behavior, the keywords are selfishness and narcissism resulting in rampant rudeness and indifference to the existence of the needs of any one else. Is uncivilised behaviour a scientific matter? I think it is cultural, an aspect of how some people, but not all in the West now raise their children. They teach them to look after themselves and their own comfort and pleasure, to hell with anyone else. Nothing is a privilege, everything is a right. Unfortunately when this behaviour ends up in your face, it blots everything else out.

    Loved the mudlarking posts with bivalve nomenclature! A little look at another aspect of Venice. So utterly calm.

    Hope they find who damaged the boats, so calculated.