Archive for vaporetto


Another little link…

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This is a typical view of LinoWorld, otherwise known as Venice.

…in the chain, if you will, connecting Venetians to each other.  Or to Lino, anyway.

In my post about going to the movies in the old days here, I mentioned Lino’s recollection of the man who stood at the entrance to the cinema Santa Margherita making and selling taffy.

In today’s episode, we were on the 5.1 vaporetto this morning traveling from the “Guglie” to the “Giardini.”  Boarding behind us, and sitting in front of us, was a tall, unkempt man in that unmappable region between 70 years old and expiration.  He was talking continually to the elderly lady with him in that peculiarly annoying voice that can’t be called LOUD but which everybody on the boat can hear.  Or rather, cannot avoid hearing.

After a few stops, they get off.  Lino says, “You know who that was?” I don’t bother replying, but wait.

“That was the son of the man who sold the taffy in front of the cinema Santa Margherita.”

The story never ends, it just keeps adding chapters.


Categories : Venetian-ness
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That pesky Grand Canal traffic

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I took this picture on Wednesday morning, October 2, at about 10:00 AM, on the "Rialto Mercato" vaporetto dock.  The Rialto bridge is slightly behind me.  I don't suppose all these boats disappeared before reaching it.  Therefore.... there are still more than enough boats on a normal day to sink anybody's Master Plan.

I took this picture on Wednesday morning, October 2, at about 10:00 AM, standing on the “Rialto Mercato” vaporetto dock. The Rialto Bridge, at which point the canal narrows, is slightly behind me. I don’t suppose all these boats disappeared before reaching it. Therefore there are still more than enough boats on a normal day to sink anybody’s Master Plan.

Following the death of German tourist Dr. Joachim Reinhard Vogel, the city went into a more-than-usually-intense spasm of introspection and finger-pointing, which I suppose could be called “extrospection.”

The urgent need to release the bottleneck at the Rialto Bridge is agreed upon by everyone.

The urgent need for everyone other than whoever is speaking to change is also universally agreed-upon.

So far, the mayor is re-examining the many and varied boat-parking permissions granted over time, the boats concerned having hardened up the narrowest part of the Grand Canal like plaque on arteries.  And we all know what plaque does, and how very good it is for you and your general well-being, otherwise known as survival.  It’s the same with the narrowing of the already narrow space at the bridge.

I admit that I have not been tracking every little blip on this issue.  I know that the Vaporetto dell’Arte is slated for removal (in November — no rush).  And the garbage-collection company, Veritas, has submitted a radical plan for removing its barges from the area.  I don’t know many there were; perhaps it means they’ve removed three.  In any case, the right spirit is at work.

Except it’s not working hard enough.  I hope it will not be thought churlish of me to note that a few days ago, a vaporetto backing up (same spot as the tragic accident) ran into a taxi which was standing still, at the same spot where the fatal gondola had also paused, for the same reason: To wait for the traffic to abate in order to avoid an accident.  There were no injuries except to the taxi.

A recent article in the Gazzettino reported this (translated by me):

“The latest confirmation of how, a month after the tragedy, nothing has changed comes from a video made by Manuel Vecchina and put on YouTube and the site of the Gazzettino.

A good 3,062 photographs, shot Monday, Sept. 2 near the Rialto Bridge between 8:47 and 18:44, and then put into a film of 4 minutes and 24 seconds, synthesize these ten hours of hellish traffic, with 1,615 boats in various movements, among which are 700 taxis, 219 vaporettos, 216 transport barges, 209 gondolas, 168 private boats, 39 airport launches, 18 “Vaporetto dell’Arte,” 13 ambulances, 17 police boats, and 2 of the firemen.”

I think we can agree that 2 fire-department boats and 13 ambulances can get a pass.

Otherwise, full steam ahead.


Categories : Problems
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Venice vaporettos: give me a sign

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I saw something today that I have longed — longed — to see, and had despaired of ever seeing. Ever. And had ceased to believe that my grandchildren, if I ever had any, would see it either.

Signs.  They have finally installed signs showing route maps on the vaporettos indicating each blessed stop of the blessed line being ridden. You can’t believe it?  I can’t either, but there they are.

Not only does the sign exist, it has been placed in a useful location on both sides of the aisle, and it's legible. They thought of everything.

Not only does the sign exist, it has been placed in a useful location (there's another on the other side of the aisle), and it's legible, unlike the other supposedly useful announcements you can just barely make out stuck to the right-hand window. They thought of everything.

The Big Cities I know have always done this on their buses and subways: New York, Paris, Moscow, London, Rome, San Francisco … I think Oslo, too, but I can’t remember at the moment.  Probably. Norway’s supposed to have the highest quality of life of any place on the planet, and I’d put bus maps right up there with free flu shots in the Great Scheme of Human Development.

In any case, it’s such an obviously simple and useful thing to do that not doing it must have required an impressive amount of density and sloth on the part of everybody here who could have made it happen.

But then again, there are countless things in life that seem so obvious, so simple, so helpful, and even so inexpensive, that it seems impossible that there should be people who can’t see the need or find the means to do them. Kissing your kid goodnight, say, or putting your hand on your heart when your national flag goes by, or running to help somebody get up who’s just tripped on the sidewalk.

But in Venice, the obvious and the simple have found an oddly inhospitable environment, where “We have no time,” “There is no money,” “The guy who knows how to do it is on vacation/ retired/dead” smothers a very large number of ideas on how to make daily life just a little bit more liveable.

This sign is a thing of true beauty.  I wouldn't put it in the league as the ABAB sonnet, but it's close.

This sign is a thing of true beauty. I wouldn't put it in the same league as the ABAB sonnet, but it's close.

Why — I have asked myself ever since I first came here, back in the Bronze Age –why should public transport have been made so thrillingly complicated for ordinary people who, let’s face it, comprise 98 percent of the world’s population and 99.9 percent of the visitors to Venice? (I made that up, but it could still be true.)

I don’t know the answer.  But I do know that many, many people whom I have seen with these very eyes have struggled not only with their luggage and their hysterical offspring and their own fatigue and lack of fluency in Italian, but with a bus system which gave you no intelligent means of knowing where you are or how to get where you’re going.

I have seen frantic people with big suitcases pull up to the Lido stop and ask the vaporetto conductor, “Is this the train station?”  Not only is the correct answer “No, it’s not,” but the full phrase is “The station is at the other end of town and it will take you 50 minutes to get there.  Sorry about you missing your train.”  (Actually, they don’t say “Sorry.”)

Then they decided to put another map further back in the cabin, showing both of the routes which this type of vehicle is likely to take, plus the N, or night-time abbreviated route which begins at

Then they decided to put another map further back in the cabin, showing both of the routes which this type of vehicle is likely to take, plus the N, or night-time abbreviated route which begins around midnight, depending on where you are.

In any civilized settlement in the world, from Scott City, Kansas on up, the traveler would have had some means of confirming his progress by consulting a conveniently placed and easy-to-read map, then looking out the window at the name of the upcoming stop.  It takes less than half a second to know if you’re headed in the wrong direction.

Of course there are plenty of maps around.  Tiny, Gordian diagrams in guidebooks or given out by the hotel, with supposedly helpful colors and numbers of lines, but the colors twist themselves into macrame and some of the numbers no longer exist. You can spend a long time waiting for the #82 before you find out that it doesn’t run after September 13. And that it is now called the #2.

Or the route map on the bus-stop dock.  It would be an intrepid traveler indeed to be able to read, and remember after boarding, what the next stops are called which lead toward one’s destination as one struggles through the wildebeest-migration that occurs on most docks.

Say what you will about the not-so-new mayor, Giorgio Orsoni;  he seems to have put a few people in positions of authority who not only have intelligent, grown-up ideas on how to make things work, but have figured out how to bring them to pass before the next Ice Age, which by the way is probably never going to happen considering which way the climate is going.  But you see my point.

So I give two thumbs-up to Carla Rey, the new councilor (or as I translate assessore, sub-mayor) for Commerce, Consumer Affairs, and Urban Quality.  I don’t know that she is behind this leap into the future, but what she has done so far in other areas leads me to believe it’s highly likely. Hers is a title which never existed before and has a bracingly modern, Big-City ring to it.

“Urban”?  Little old us?

So what’s my next Impossible Dream?  Large to Very Large public trash bins placed everywhere.  To be specific, I want there to be at least one large trash bin no further than 50 feet from any point in the entire city where you may be standing.  Wherever you stop, you need to be able to see a trash bin. This is not, I can assure you, the case at the moment.

I know, it sounds like crazy talk.  But now there are route maps on the vaporettos.

This changes everything.

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