29 May 2013

European Vacation Thirteen - Venice the Menace


Venice yesterday. Crowded streets a riot of tourists voices from all over a lot a lot German. Many Americans some French Spanish and the ubiquitous miscellaneous. Jostling hustling dawdling. Some people in groups ambling slowly suddenly stopping not getting out of the way. Others practically running past helter skelter elbowing by swinging backpacks unconscious or rude no excuse mes. Souvenir stands every 25 feet  -- or less -- hawking the same wares at varying prices. Most run by middle eastern men who get all up in your face if you show interest in anything. Along the way more middle eastern men and African men selling their knock off purses sunglasses and knick knacks. More shops many with delicious looking pastries and candies. Cafes. Sandwich pizza slice soda shops. Little restaurants spilling out into the streets. We ate at one. Very good.

Oh yes there were the canals. The filthy water. The boats water buses water cabs and expensive gondolas. Also commercial boats takin’ care of bizness. Still more churches and basilicas and chapels. Some we enter and the art is amazing stunning and oddly empty because of what it serves....

....So imagine a peasant in the 12th century with no concept of philosophy or religion who walks into a cathedral. The story is told in a fashion so spectacular in a setting so far removed from the one room hut that is his home. How can their story not be true. How can the passion of the son of the creator of all things not inspire one to join this faith even give more onto this opulence. Surely this would be overwhelming and beyond an uneducated man’s questioning. Imagine this scenario plays out over and over and over throughout the centuries not just in Italy but all over the world. The answers to life are here in this magnificent house of worship. The rituals confirm it. The BOOK confirms it. The guidelines for living confirm it. And the promise: eternal life. This confirms it beyond doubt. A place in the heavenly choir at the lap of god. Generations grow up in this faith and give to it. Without questioning. What need for the struggle of asking when the answers are all provided? The soul wrenching intellectual emotional process of exploring meaning is removed. Science is enemy because it can contradict. Worse enemies are non believers who must be converted -- join us. The worst enemies are those of opposing faiths. Their lives contradicting ours. Worth a war at any rate.

So at some point the beauty within these churches seems sad. They are great works of art used in the service of propaganda of denying the need for people to wonder at he beauty of the sunset or the miracle of birth or the complexities of human emotion.

View from the Campanile
Venice is a lovely city. But in our one day visit we saw what most tourists see and what so many were that very day seeing. It would be worth returning to explore other parts of the city. The less trodden streets. One of the great problems of tourism is time. It is usually limited and one ends up just seeing the usual attractions and missing the true flavor of the city or area. It is thus nice to be spending time in Bologna in a residential apartment courtesy of air bandb. With my niece and family living walking distance away we get to spend time with them and get off the beaten track. All our air bandb hosts have been able to recommend restaurants and sites that the locals enjoy and are not necessarily infested with tourists.

Bologna has less tourists than the other places we’ve visited. It is a university town with a thriving exchange program (that niece works for when not -- as she currently is -- on maternity leave). Thus their are a lot of people from other ports of call here but they are semi permanent. Bologna is a medieval city with a rich history that includes areas that still show the effects of World War II bombing. It also is an important film center which keeps my niece’s shall we say husband centered here. Well that and my niece and their two children. His name is Germano Maccioni and as I mentioned in my last post his third documentary Fedele alla linea has opened nationwide in Italy and is an instant success (extended in Rome because of continual sell outs). Besides his documentaries he directed a multi award winning short called Cose Naturali. He currently is developing his first feature fiction film. Linked here is an interview I did with him a few years ago about his first documentary State of Exception. Germano is not just a filmmaker but a film lover and I have been privileged to spend many an hour with him talking about films. We share the same love for the likes of Fellini Bergman Woody Allen and many many more. Moreover Germano is well deserving of being mate to my oldest niece who is one of the sweetest wisest most charming people on the planet. I’m proud to say they are exemplary parents. Their boy is an infant but their daughter is a three year old whirlwind of wit energy and great fun. The Finnish Italian mix is a mad brew.

We always love their visits to the states and it is treat for all concerned to gather here.

Speaking of treats this whole trip continues to be one. Less than a week left. Sigh.

1 comment:

Hotel venice airport said...

For sure, Venice needs more time to be fully discovered. But anyways, it remains to be a touristic attraction due to its history and architecture.