Venice in Peril

In the aftermath of unprecedented flooding in Venice during the fall of 1966, at which time waters rose two meters higher than normal, the International Fund for Monuments (now World Monuments Fund) strove to raise awareness about the dire challenges faced by the city. As part of these efforts, they translated and republished the two essays contained in this volume, one by Indro Montanelli and the other by Guiseppe Samona. Both serve as a call to arms for the preservation of the Venice, claiming that damage to the city represents not just a loss for its inhabitants but a loss for the entirety of Western civilization.

In particular, they cite the industrialization of adjacent Mastre-Marghera, and the associated increase in pumping water and natural gas from the ground as being primarily responsible for Venice subsiding some fifteen centimeters during the first half of the twentieth century. At the same time, the traditional central authorities for regulating the lagoon and protective barriers surrounding the city were neglected and the population within its urban core declined as jobs and political influence followed the flight of industry to the shore of the mainland. Both conclude that foreign assistance and an organization with broad powers similar to that of the historic Water Magistrate will be necessary to safeguard the city for the long-term, but hope that the restoration of Venice could serve as an example for cities elsewhere in Italy.

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