Sunday, July 3, 2011


I bought a paper hat in Rome, not just because I am a dweeb but because the top of my head was burned and blistered. By the time we got to Venice I was sometimes forced to wear it. Fortunately Venice is a very shady place.

Being a hopelessly romantic person, I insisted that we go on a gondola ride. Of course the rides are ridiculously expensive, but Venice is sinking into the sea, and when will we get another chance to paddle up to the home where Mozart lived or to where Marco Polo waved goodbye to his family? (OK, possibly the ride was not completely my idea...)

We turned the corner and found ourselves in the alleyway of a deserted and decaying city. What we saw would have shocked the Venetians of years ago--their houses sunk below the water.

In many places people no longer live on the bottom floors because the sea rushes in each day at high tide. Ornate, fancy doors stand proudly, rotting at the bottom. Many windows were bricked up to help provide some stability. The population of Venice has decreased dramatically in the past several years because no one can afford to buy and fix these buildings.

My silly brain, it seems, is unable to relax and enjoy some history--I just want to fix up these places.

The sea bed is sinking, and global warming will raise the water level just enough to really complicate things in this century. A great deal of money comes into Venice, and they have ambitious projects underway (like some giant gates that are meant to hold out the water from high tides), but the outlook for Venice is grim.

More than once during the ride I was reminded of being on Lake Overcup as a kid years ago, quietly paddling around in a small boat at a good fishing spot, around the remains of an old house, except all we could really see was its chimney sticking up from the water and the gray trunks of trees that once shaded the driveway.

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