Rowing in Venice is under threat – pass the message on!

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Rowing in Venice is under siege

Giacomo De Stefano has made this short but striking piece of Youtube film to boost awareness and to encourage Venetians to preserve the ancient and elegant tradition of rowing in that city. Rowers are fast disappearing, he reports, yet the boats are an important part of his country’s history and culture, and he’d like this video to be passed on virally.

I hope he and his friends succeed. I don’t know Venice, but I must say that this distinctively different style of rowing has an appeal of its own – and seems very effective.

7 thoughts on “Rowing in Venice is under threat – pass the message on!”

  1. Mr. De Stefano makes an interesting plea in a melodramatic manner that is appealing. Yet, it leaves much to the imagination about what he wants done.

    Yes, Venice has a centuries long history of rowing, and yes, the water is essential to all transportation and commerce there.

    I have the good fortune to visit Venice once or twice a year. As a boat lover, I revel in all kinds of boating activity there and agree that as many types of activity as possible should continue.

    On the other hand, there is the reality that times change and means of transportation change, and that commerce is essential to life. That means power boats are essential to moving everything one depends upon. I see their pervasiveness as a necessity, not a dictatorship. If power boats did indeed have the dictatorship Mr. De Stefano speaks of, we would see all rowing banned from the major thoroughfares in Venice and that has not happened.

    Liken the situation to large American cities. Most no longer allow horse carriages on major streets or on highways. You won't see horse carriages in most parts of New York City. Yes, you can see Fiakers around Central Park, but they are severely restricted in where they can go. People simply won't tolerate the traffic interruptions that come form mixing slow transport with hurry-scurry transport.

    In comparison, Venice is far less restricted for rowers, and the people there far more tolerant of rowers than the rest of the west is of other outmoded forms of transportation. From that point of view, they should be celebrating rather than mourning.

  2. Dear Mr. Easton,

    Thank you for your comment. You are right, Venice allows us to row, quite freely, but how? These flat bottomed vessels need smooth waters, not the 2-3 feet waves in Canale della Giudecca or in San Marks basin. We need taxi drivers to respect speed limits, to respect us to respect the effort of the master boatbuilders to survive, in the era of fiberglass and cheap boat. This is Venice. Or should be.

    Venice is different, is not New York, is not a normal city. Without boat Venice wouldn't exist. We have to respect these boats.

    In Venice you cannot use a window frame different from a certain typology otherwise you will get an heavy fine, or worst.

    So why in the Gran Canal some things ironically called Tourist Boats can damage the palaces themselses, deeply?

    The problem is much different, much more serious the an aestetichal rappresentation.

    The commerce is essential to life when it doesn't destroy the reason itself bringing the people in that city.

    The big boats, the taxis, the cruise ships are destroying Venice.

    Many scientifical reports are telling us very clearly what is happening.Here is a little example… Try and dial "Moto Ondoso" in Google..

    That's why we row and we row to make Venice itself survive.

    Venice needs delicacy, a soft caress, not a punch in her face.

    All my best

  3. Only a few days ago there was a report on the radio about an appeal to save Venice from dying as a place to live. Everything is a tourist facility now, so Venetians cannot afford to buy flats, and all the things you need such as schools and even local shops are closing. Soon Venice will be a branch of Disney World.

    When I visited Venice I was shocked by the amount of motorboat traffic in the Grand Canal, making rowing about as difficult and dangerous as cycling in London. On the other hand, events like the Volalonga attract huge numbers of rowers to Venice so it's not all going the power boat's way.

  4. When Giacomo sent me this video, I was first shocked at the disrespect motor taxis showed the rowed craft, much the same as here in my home port and as Chris says, an apt comparison to bicycling in a big city.

    I'm afraid, Bob, that I have to disagree that internal engines are not despotic. Horsepower, like tonnage is a dangerous thing when used in an inconsiderate manner. In the first clip of this video, the water taxi comes perilously close to clipping the oar of the sandolo it is passing.

    Where I live, the maritime rules strictly state that an overtaking boat gives way when passing and that human powered boats have right of way over power vessels.

    May it always be so.

    The more militant among us would rather that modern commerce move at a slower pace, more in tune with the rhythms of nature than the throb of an engine.

  5. Mr. De Stefano,

    Yes, Venice needs delicacy. I agree completely with that sentiment. I treasure Venice for her art and history and certainly appreciate the efforts of people who want to retain her fine character.

    I have spent many hours near and on the waters in and around Venice, and have seen a large percentage of powered traffic trying hard to abide the speed limits. And yes, I have also seen quite a few individuals blatantly ignoring not only speed limits but basic boating safety practices. I also scratched my head and wondered when I saw a sign for a rowing school on the Canale della Giudecca. I wonder where they teach classes for beginners, certainly not there. 🙂

    Your video did not say exactly what you would like done. What is your proposal? What do you advocate? Do you want something as simple as traffic abiding the speed limits, or do you want other prohibitions on powered boats? When so much of life's necessities arrive by powered boats, they can't be completely prohibited. What do you see as the answer?

    … and Thank You for doing your part to keep Venice charming.

  6. Thank you Gavin, for this post in your super blog, thank you Michael, Bob and Chris,

    You are helping us to save these piece of a planet heritage called VeNice.

    There are many things to do. Prohibiting the internal combustion motor trafic is a drastic decision, actually very difficult to make, but it will happen. Electric motor boats can be an answer, education can be another, many lakes in Germany, Austria have shown that it is possible. My father owns a Eun Na MAra propelled by an electric engine and it works perfectly. 5 hours with a single charge. But tell a taxi driver to install an electric engine.. I go to talk in the schools to explain that is not necessary to be an idiot to run a speed boat along the canals in Venice and her wonderful lagoon, but it helps a lot (G.B. Shaw about golfing, you all know..)But they do it. Maybe they ARE idiots. Speed is the problem, lack of education and therefore respect is another, bigger, problem. And hull's designs. Money is pushing everybody here to run, to bring more tourists, everybody wants to see Venice. That's absolutely right. But why can't we, our politics listen to the many proposals we made in the past years to oblige the people to respect the delicacy of Venice? Just google Moto ondoso (wakes in Venice) and you will see thousands of projects, idromorphological analysis and more.. The answer is obvious. Money. But we will overcome, because we are simply right. Sit and observe. A motor boat is a preistorical, polluting thing with a fake idea of progress. Speed is a lie. Respect, intelligence, silence and wisdom is the future. It has always been the right thing to do. Think about these words and look back, and look where we are now. We can go slowly here. It is necessary and a better way of moving. Here. All my love to you all my friends, and come to visit me in Venice go on my site and write me a mail. We will row or sail together

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