Archive for the ‘so it goes’ Category

bag sellers

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

upon kind request, i am starting a new thread about “bag sellers”. i’m sure this request refers to streets vendors who display their goods on the ground, along the streets (calli) or on bridges. quite a shocking view when you get to venice especially for the first time.obviously this business is illegal, but so spread (and well organized, and not only in venice but all over italy) that the officers have a hard time stopping it. the numbers: sellers are more and more, officers come in 2 or 3 per inspection. and there is a net of “sentinels” who inform bag sellers via cell phone if inspectors are in sight. so it is virtually impossible to catch them.

it must be added that some vendors have a regular business permit as “ambulante” (itinerant seller), which they display, and pay an annual fee. in the majority of cases, they do not have such permits.

an advertising campaign in various languages set by the Comune di Venezia and Chamber of Commerce informs people that buying from these vendors is very often a way to reinforce criminal organizations that exploit immigrants, instead of a way to help immigrants. Buyers can be fined: if you buy a Gucci’s bag for — say — 10.00 euro in the street, you are aware that there must be something wrong. Really wrong.

wedding in venice? there’s a guide

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

getting married in venice is complicated. (staying married is even more, but that’s another story :) ) if the bride and groom are from different countries and according to the civil status, there are different papers to have ready.

in years of activity with and as editor of Buongiorno Venezia i received the strangest requests for helping organize the wedding-of-dreams. some made me shiver (imagine being asked if one can get married in a Mickey Mouse costume during a 17th century carnival party. that was my feeling. i mean, i’ll look traditionalist but the wedding is NOT the party. the wedding is the wedding, the party is the party. you can mix the two, but with intelligence and respect - for your life plans and hopes).

this said, i respect both romantic escapes from the world (”just the two of us”, which inevitably makes you think of deep feelings) and parades.

in italy is not so easy to divorce as in the States. if the couple agrees for separation, 3 years of legal separation are needed before requesting the divorce. this applied to the civil aspect of the marriage. the marriage is unbreakable for the Catholic religion, apart from some reason (e.g. there has never been an intercourse, or the will to have children). so if you made both civil and religious wedding, you end up being divorced for the state but still married for the church.

back to the news. a practical guide has been issued by the hotelliers. haven’t seen it yet. be sure i’ll review it for you and write about this :)

UPDATE April 10, 2007 - (i am still newbie with blogs, so i can’ decide if a new post or a comment is better. anyway, this is it- if you wish to read on).
the Just married in Venice guide tries to respond to the hotelliers need: finding new ways to make money, without getting mad after the couples’ requests. The best possibile solution would be offering standard dream-packages and superior dream-packages, but it’s not that easy… every country has its own traditions, and the crazy thign is that often couples want to reproduce their traditions in venice. as if italians would ask for a well done spaghetti dish when abroad (nearly impossible). another reason why there may be little understanding between couples and hotelliers/organizers, is that wedding ceremonies in italy are rarely organized by professional agencies (like in the States), but by the couple or the family. a more intimate process? hiring a professional would also be expensive to italians, and couple prefer do the searches personally or choose during wedding exhibit fairs. as a result, the richest couples bring their wedding consultants from their own countries. not a bad idea, if you want a showy wedding. this is one of the udeas that a reader would get from the manual.

the list of requests is interesting: no limits to fantasy, but sometimes dreams must take alternative routes. e.g.: Americans seem to have a special desire for ice sculptures; Italian hotelliers wonder what this has to do with warm climate and the Mediterranean sea, and with Venice. the clients are always right, even if they may look nuts; but as a matter of fact, you’d better forget ice sculptures in venice unless you want to pay a fortune. subliminal message: be reasonable.

impossible is nothing, Nike ads says.. why not? a dream is a dream, a bed covered with rose petals is unforgettable romance… who cares if dreams are also a business :-)

>> Contacts for more info <<

can someone explain

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

can someone tell me how it works. imagine you need a sponsor for a project of your client’s’. you ask around, someone addresses you to some others who regularly do fund raising. so you ask them for money, but they tell you they have no money, because they will spend much money to organize their next fund raising.

do i miss something?


Sunday, April 1st, 2007

so Alexandra made it, she is the first woman gondolier. but a private gondolier. only a half victory.



update of April 4: in response to Clodia’s comment. i understand it’s kind of shocking and may not be not very feminine to see a woman rowing like a man in the Grand canal. i think this is all about breaking barriers (and making money: don’t forget it’s a great adveertising campaign for the hotel which hired and supported her).

yes, we are surprised. there are contradictions, always: in italy we may be more or less proud of one existing woman gondolier, whilst we begin hearing stories of (how many?) of immigrated women who cannot decide about their own future because “other cultures” (which are only excuses to some men’s power) state that women are inferior beings, which can be segregated, used, beaten and abused. women fought hard to get their independence, and it’s not over. in italy we want to look forward, not backwards, and have different cultures enrich each other. so if Alexandra can be an example of an independent life, i applaude. even though i truly prefer a smiling guy to drive me in the gondola ;)





about gondolas:

cellos please

Monday, March 12th, 2007

the talk of the town. as many others, last week we were informed that a group of music students in an educational tour from different parts of the USA was arriving in Venice in a couple of days and planning to do some performing at Piazza San Marco and maybe join a small group of young local musicians. The problem is that they needed 3 cellos (didn’t take the ones from there, because it was too expensive and maybe they feared some damages in the trasportations, and maybe some troubles with customs). Their parents in the States started to search the cellos for rent in venice, via phone and mail. Anyone from Conservatorio to the Tourism bureau was alerted. We were too, at . The concert was planned for Saturday night, March 10th. A cry for help

What happened? Everyone started calling friends, shops, institutions, with the result that the same people were called several times in the day. So when you called someone, he or she regularly answered “I already know. and the answer is no”. No? why?


i’m reporting, so please do not shoot the pianist.

first of all, Venice is neither NY nor LA. it’s a small town with 50,000 residents (less than pigeons, 60-70,000). so you cannot expect to have the same services you would find in the States.

No cellos for rent in venice, simply. and there seemed to be a very low budget for the rent (this was the passed-on word: not hard to believe, as they were students): otherwise, mountains would have been moved to bring in cellos from anywhere, Milan or Rome.


to venetians, the inquire was considered not so far from a lending request. But: cellos are expensive, personal, delicate instruments. the less expensive cellos cost about 600 euros (made in China: who would use them in a concert? an expert told me), the “regular” ones cost thousands of euro (would you lend yours to an unknown student?). More: the 10th of March is Saturday, and even admitting that some artist could lend a cello, Saturday evening is usually already booked for concerts.


we did not hear from them again. no idea what happened. given circumstances and time, i guess they were only able to rent some guitars. too bad, if so. many people were really willing to help (me included), but there was nowhere else to ask to.


end of the story (and lessons to learn, for anyone): lesson one, collect as much information as possible in advance, for any plan and travel. lesson two, do not expect red carpets. and bring your own musical instrument if possible!