If the Venetians are any touchstone of Italian sentiment, then there is little hope! All the Italians I speak to here blame the laziness of those in the south, all the southerners blame the Northern Alliance. Everyone blames Berlusconi and politicians in general.
Put against this the prodigious output of the Venetians over the centuries, from Marco Polo to Tintoretto, listen to Monteverdi in St Marks, soak up the splendour of a city with nine centuries of dominance and you sense that Venice has never really been a part of Italy. It is a succesful City State that floats around like a marshmallow on the top of a cup of hot chocolate.
Venice sits on top of Italy but you sense it could just as well pick itself up and go its own way. A bit like the City of London.
Talking with Venetians is like talking with those in the City of London and Canary wharf. They are a part of the crisis but disconnected in any real way from its impact. Venice like the City will continue to make money despite its problems, indeed Venice’s constant battle with the sea seems to be its charm.
I wouldn’t go so far as to call City folk charming, but the charisma of London that attracts the world to it , is evident wherever you go in the world. The Union Jack is sported on a thousand garments, ours is the world’s lingua franca, our music can be heard in every shop.
The City of London, in financial terms, defines and governs Europe as Venice did from the 12th to the 18th century.
I chose to go to Venice for my 50th birthday as a place where I could sit back and take stock of my first 50 and work out what I’d do with the next 50. From where I’m sitting, on a roof terrace overlooking the Goldoni Theatre, the lessons of Venetian and the City of London successes, for all their vain-glory, inform very much on that process.