Wednesday, December 9, 2009

When the Tide Rolls In: Venice

Matt was in Venice again to do still more research at la Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana.  (I just love it, here we have a quintessential example of Italy's adjectival usage.  La Marciana is a National Library.  Read carefully.  The Marciana is one of at least five national libraries in Italy: Rome, Florence, Milan, Torino, Venice, and maybe a few others.)  He went to Venice on a sunny day, clear blue skies all around. What he saw, however, shocked him beyond belief.   Piazza San Marco was entirely flooded, and the whole city was 1-1/2 feet deep in water.  The raised sidewalks, a series of planks that look like park benches are lined up end to end, were all up.  I guess the tide had rolled in; apparently, it was that time of the month. (I think that's how tides work, anyway).

But it was business as usual for the Venetians.  Despite have water around their calves in their shops, they were conducting trade and serving their clients without a hitch.  They all had high rubber boots on and some had one or two employees hauling bucket after bucket of water out of the store.  Matt saw a gelateria (ice cream store) taking orders and serving up cones from the ground, surrounded by water, to people leaning down from the raised sidewalks.  I can only imagine all the Venetians that must have been loitering on these two-feet wide planks with their little porcelain cups of caffe, reaching down to return a cup and to place a euro in the the hand of a rubber-booted barrista.

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