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.)

When times were good, everybody was happy, not least the winged lion of San Marco.

When times were good, everybody was happy, not least the winged lion of San Marco.

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.    
Now that times are hard, people -- and the lion -- aren't quite so jaunty.

Now that times are hard, people -- and the lion, too -- aren't quite so jaunty.

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.