Archive for Vicenza


What he did on his summer vacation

Posted by: | Comments (1)

The reason for the unusually long time since my last post is the inverse correlation between the current heatwave (still increasing) and my capacity to think and/or act upon my thoughts (still decreasing).

Of course it’s summer so of course it’s hot.  What does everyone expect?  The Siberian front that usually moves through here in January? Everybody complains about that too.

And I recognize that longer and more intense heatwaves have been tormenting people in many other parts of the world.  But I don’t use my brain there and I haven’t been using what’s left of it here lately either.

For about a week now the daytime temperature has gone near, and now will be going past, 96 degrees F/36 C.  With searing sun which not even the most foolhardy cloud has dared to veil.  The “perceived heat” will be over 100.  It’s like living in Pascagoula with palazzos.

But heat doesn’t seem to prevent people from doing all sorts of unusual things, so I thought I’d share one of the more eccentric or anyway less horrifying recent summer events (by “less horrifying” I mean episodes not involving drug overdoses, marital homicide/suicides, fatal hit-and-run accidents, and so forth). Many of those have a highly ironic nature which might lead you to consider them humorous, but I’m going to avoid them.

The best of the batch is being accomplished by a certain Ivano De Marchi, 65 years old, who lives in Marcon (just 14 miles/22 km from Venice).  He has been driving around the Veneto in his convertible BMW with a coffin jammed into the passenger seat.

Here is a video of a sighting on the A4 highway near the Vicenza Ovest exit.

For those who don’t see the video, here’s the link:

I’ll simplify his explanation: It’s a pilgrimage.  Not any ordinary one, but a “protest pilgrimage” to punish the mayor.

Back in 1988, De Marchi paid a lot of his own money and time and energy to create a motocross track, presumably near his hometown and presumably something he intended for his own enjoyment.  I don’t know how much money or time you need to construct a motocross track but I know it’s not something you just throw away, like the 20 million dollars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt spent for that chateau in France.

Anyway, he spent the money, then the mayor razed the track and cut it up into parcels, presumably for houses (there was no mention of a miniature golf course or firing range).

So now, 23 years later, revenge.  According to De Marchi, the Virgin Mary came to him in a dream and told him to undertake 1000 pilgrimages with a coffin to 1000 churches, after which time presumably the ex-mayor will be ready for his box.  That’s the assumption De Marchi is going on.

Of course the police have stopped him (no word on whether the bishop has sent out his own squad).  They gave him the breath-test and the drug test and he was just fine.  “Then they made me open the coffin, which obviously was empty” — actually, not so obvious to even a moderately alert policeman.  “After that they told me to be careful, and they let me go,” he concludes.

“Of course I”m careful: The coffin has got its seatbelt fastened.”

If we are given any updates on the fulfillment of his vow, especially the expected outcome, I’ll certainly let you know.  As it is, while the rest of us are being steamed like asparagus out here, he is out there breezing along with his coffin and his retaliation to keep him company.  I have no idea if he has a time frame for this quest — even if he were able to visit ten churches a day, he’d be at this for at least three months.  It’s not going to be quite so much fun when the winter rains move in.

But for now, he’s happy.  At the least, he’s not stuck in miles of traffic coming home from vacation, like all those really dumb people.



Comments (1)

The big water event in the Veneto region in November has had nothing to do with Venice and high water and the temporary walkways and how inconvenient or amusing the tourists find it and how aggravating it is for the merchants to deal with some water on the floor for a few hours.

Part of downtown Vicenza, a part of the world which is not accustomed to seeing water in its streets.

A scene of downtown Vicenza, a city which, unlike Venice, is not accustomed to seeing water in its streets. (Photo:

The real story, which is still unfolding in all its drama and grief, has been the catastrophic flooding in large areas of the region caused  by diluvial rains and overflowing rivers.

I mention this as part of my modest personal crusade to give acqua alta some useful context for people beyond the old Bel Paese who read the endless and fairly repetitive  articles on Venice.  I’d like  to provide some recent perspective on the subject of water in these parts.

On November 1 the sky fell on the Veneto region.  I actually can’t remember whether we got acqua alta in Venice — if we did it couldn’t have been a problem. But what happened out beyond the shoreline showed, at least to me, that anyone living near a river is going to be facing bigger and uglier problems than anybody does  in Venice when the tide comes in.

The town of Caldogno has declared 80,000,000 euros in damage.

The town of Caldogno has declared 80,000,000 euros in damage. (Photo:

Areas in or near Vicenza, Padova, Treviso, the mountains of Belluno and the countryside around Verona have been declared disaster areas.  In a 48-hour period 23 inches of rain fell on Belluno, 21 inches on Vicenza, 15 inches on Verona, 14 inches on Treviso.  Roughly the amount that falls in a normal year.

The total damage to houses, property, municipal infrastructure and agriculture in the Veneto has been estimated (this will undoubtedly increase) at over one billion euros ($1,365,530,000).

Garbage: Many of the Veneto’s 200 km (124 miles) of beaches, usually covered by vacationing Germans and other families, are now covered by seven million tons of garbage deposited by the swollen  rivers emptying into the Adriatic. By “garbage” I don’t just mean bags of coffee grounds and orange peel but plastic of every sort, sheets of metal, uprooted trees.

Experts meeting in Treviso are trying to figure out not only how to remove this amount of material, but how the sam hill to pay for getting rid of it, seeing that this type of trash costs between 170 and 180 euros ($232 – $245) per ton to destroy.  I’ll help you out: That comes to more than one and a half billion dollars just for the garbage.  I’ll send them a contribution but it probably wouldn’t pay for destroying more than a shopping-bag’s worth of detritus.

Mudslides: That amount of rain has drastically undermined the character of the land in many places.  Cleaning up and consolidating the areas of mudslides is another entire problem which will cost an amount of money I’m not going to bother calculating.

Businesses: On their knees.  Loss of merchandise, damage to buildings and interruptions in transport have immobilized many businesses.  Parts of many roads are still under water.

A scene of the countryside outside Vicenza, where traffic has ceased to function.

A scene of the countryside outside Vicenza, where we see that traffic has run out of road.

Agriculture: Fields and crops destroyed.  Some 500 farming operations are now at risk of going out of business. The government has estimated the damage at 25 million euros ($34,138,250).

I realize that you can replant sugar beets and chardonnay grapes but you can’t replant the Doge’s Palace, should water ever inflict comparable damage on this incomparable monument.  But still.

Very recently, but before all this happened, Giorgio Orsoni, the mayor of Venice, took a trip to Rome to make the rounds of government ministers and rattle the tin cup.  He didn’t come back with much, and now the future will inevitably be even more austere.  It’s not hard to picture how urgent it’s going to seem to preserve a couple of palaces and churches  to a government struggling to help an estimated 500,000 people get their lives back.

These are the most recent figures on the damage, which probably need no translation.  The numbers will undoubtedly rise.

These are the most recent figures on the damage, which probably need no translation. The numbers will undoubtedly rise. Among other items is the damage to the Prosecco vineyards, so don't expect an excess of this delicacy next year.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Categories : Events, Problems, Water
Comments (6)