Monday, October 1, 2007

Getting Old and Rain

No, I am not making a reference to myself. Other than a few aches and pains from constant walking, I feel better than I have in years. Instead, I am referring to Venice itself.

But when one gets to be 1,555 years old, things start falling apart. And in this case, I mean it literally. Last Saturday at 2:10pm, a 20 inch long, 66 pound piece of marble fell from the Doge's Palace. Only one person, a German tourist, was slightly wounded. For any of you who have been to St. Marks Square in the middle of the afternoon, know that this is a miracle in itself. With the hords of people, its a wonder several didnt go to meet their maker. The block of marble broke off from the window of the "Maggior Consiglio", the biggest window in the Doge's Palace, which faces St. Mark's Basin. The cause of the accident is unknown, but early guesses include the recent rains and the change in temperature between day and night. Mayor Massimo Cacciari is very worried. "It's an important signal," Cacciari announced. "Venice needs money for these kinds of restorations."

And speaking of rain....on September 26, Venice and the mainland experienced one of their most dramatic meteorological occurrences. An exceptional cloudburst, which lasted through the night until mid-morning, brought Venice and many municipalities of the province to their knees. I wrote about this rain last week here, but had no idea it was truly that big of deal for the Venetians as well. There was total paralysis affecting traffic and every other activity: hundreds of cars were submerged underwater along the roads on the mainland, and underground car garages were buried under several feet of water and mud. In the course of six hours, rainfall totalled 12 inches!! This is amazing since the total annual mean of rainfall here is about 31 inches. The governor of Veneto proclaimed a state of natural disaster!

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