The Special Law for Venice
Laws don’t usually come with fancy titles, but this one, in its sheer bluntness, has a kind of poetry of its own.
In 1967, after the exceptional acqua alta of November 4, 1966, the Italian government passed this legislation in order to guarantee money for measures to safeguard the city’s well-being. (There still is no corresponding law for the city of Florence, although the damage caused by the Arno’s flooding on the same day was exponentially worse, up to and including 40 casualties.)
The law is fairly long and detailed, as you might imagine, but the “juice of the subject,” as they say here, is the following (translated by me):
“The State recognizes the safeguarding of Venice and its lagoon as a problem of preeminent national interest. For that end it guarantees the safeguarding of the landscape, historic, archaeological and artistic environment of the city of Venice and its lagoon, the protection of its hydraulic [meaning “water,” not its behavior] equilibrium, the preservation of its environment from pollution of its water and air, and to ensure its socio-economic vitality. In the pursuit of that end, the State, Region (i.e., Veneto) and the Comunes (towns that comprise the province of Venice) will cooperate, according to their jurisdictions.
“In particular, the Comune of Venice is the recipient of:
- appropriations allocated for the acquisition, restoration and conservative rehabilitation of building for residences, social and cultural activities, artisans who make and also sell their work, held to be essential for the maintenance of the socio-economic characteristics of the lagoon’s urban settlements;
- appropriations for the realization of the primary urbanization works, not least the adjustments to bridges, canals, and embankments on the canals which are under the commune’s jurisdiction;
- appropriations for the disbursement of contributions for the execution of rehabilitation and restoration of private buildings;
- appropriations for the acquisition of areas to designate for productive settlements and for the primary and secondary urbanization of the same.
Essentially, anything that involves keeping Venice on its feet and in the ring, from the physical to the cultural point of view. All Special Law, All the Time. Its only drawback is that while it guarantees money, it doesn’t guarantee how much. It isn’t every day that a law’s loophole is that easy to spot, but now it’s distressingly evident to everybody.