|To say that
Venice is a
modern city may seem preposterous considering
that it can be toured using a map created five hundred years ago. But
come to think of it, one realizes that except for
an enduring architecture and a general lack of cars and noise
pollution, all the other elements essential, and otherwise, of a modern
city are present in Venice: A city that pioneered the adoption of
public transportation (the vaporetto
dates from 1881; in most cities at that time public transportation was
horse-drawn). A city wired for the 20th century and wireless for
the 21st. A city where public housing goes back centuries, way before
the rising of the projects ubiquitous in today's metropolises.
make a list of all the things that make Venice a modern city and that
list would go on and on and at some point it would include "a city with
As old as civilization itself, this form of expression – the graffito – took on a new
dimension some fifty years ago with the widespread use of spray paint
and has become the watermark that identifies all modern cities.
We won't find in Venice the elaborate displays of the taggers of London
or New York, but we will see the blunt social message,
the sloppy outcry or the poetic lament inscribed on bridges and walls,
new and old, by locals and visitors alike.
I have gathered here a few of the graffiti
that over the years have caught my attention. They come in all flavors
and, being Venice a city of tourists, in an assortment of languages. In
addition, I have included the graffito's less-spontaneous but
better-civilized cousins: the signs and banners. There is a collection
of photos of mostly polite but sometimes crude signs, from the Giudecca
to the most remote
corners of Castello, asking the fellow citizens of Venice, "questa povera città," to
take proper care
of their garbage, not to be dumped, ditched or discharged on somebody
else's front door, and to clean after their beloved canine companions.