The iconic oak briccole that criss-cross the lagoon fulfil a number of functions.
Like the white lines of a road way they provide directional guidance.
In remote reaches they support lamps that enable night time navigation.
They mark the channels that have been dredged to allow safe passage away from the shallows and marshes where vessels might otherwise run aground.
And around Lido, they create speed restricted lanes that control traffic until it is at a safe distance from the island.
Versatile things these oak logs.
Have I persuaded you to read The Dark Heart of Italy yet?
Tobias Jones’ frustrations with the bureaucracy of Italy are amusing at times, galling at others but I wonder if perhaps it says as much about the British as it does the Italians. There’s an air of Victor Meldrew about his tale of disaster following the creation of a direct debit to pay his bills to Telecom Italia and the overcharging, disconnection, queuing to complain, and additional fees that ensued.
If typical it would be a powerful incentive to switch to a mobile provider, though I wonder if TIM, Vodafone Italia or Wind are easier to deal with.
I know that the hundreds of wellheads in the city are capped to prevent usage so that the foundations of La Serenissima are preserved.
I know that the water from public fountains is of a high standard to discourage the purchase of bottled water and reduce waste processing and recycling costs.
I know that there are over a hundred of these fountains spread amongst the six districts of Venice.
I don’t know how much energy must be consumed in producing and purifying all the water that is wasted by their continuous flow.
Surely a case for a tap or valve?
It might seem a little perverse to stand on the Ponte dei Tre Archi and photograph its environment rather than the bridge itself, given its unique three arched design and perhaps it is, but the waterway passing beneath it is one of only three canals here (the narrower channels being rii).
The Cannaregio Canal doesn’t have the breathtaking vistas that the Grand Canal provides courtesy of its churches and palazzi, but to my eye it still has something on offer from its apartments, businesses and waterlogged quaysides.
It feels more honest.
I’m not a fan of some of the special effects that come with most photo processing packages; the sort of thing where at the click of a button you can render your image into a mosaic, a pencil sketch, an oil painting. It’s snobbery really, but I want to preserve the image as a photograph rather than pretend to be something it’s not.
And yet my own images are just as artificial in their own way; contrast may have been enhanced, texture layers blended with the original, colour tones added to shadows or highlights, images combined to extend the dynamic range, all and any of which produce an image which could not have been captured with the camera alone. Are they now disqualified as photographs?
My photograph of San Giorgio Maggiore has appeared here before, but in retrieving it for use in a presentation at work I accidentally applied one of those special effects; posterize. I could have clicked “undo” but found that I liked the result and ended up using it for the presentation.
With the notable exception of their football team, little inspires patriotism amongst the Italian populace. The North/South divide would put the UK to shame, and you are more likely to see the rainbow flag than the Italian tricolour.
Venice proudly flies the city’s standard, Siena’s terracotta is awash with the colours of the contrade, Sicily officially adopted the Trinacria at the turn of the century, but the red, white and green generates less excitement.
Nevertheless some banners are ubiquitous.
In his book The Dark Heart of Italy, Tobias Jones vents his disgust and frustration at numerous aspects of Italian life; crime, religion, football, television and above all politics. Amongst the tales of corruption and vice one of his lesser targets is the level of bureaucracy that affects every aspect of daily life;
I used to get infuriated in such situations when I first arrived, but now I rather enjoy them. I’ve realised that, as the British go to the pub, so the Italians go to the post office. You meet and make friends, read a paper or just pass the time.
Doesn’t look as if the locals hold the institution in such esteem.