From Venice with love

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Sitting in front of Tintoretto’s Crucifixion, a massive canvas that examines the nature of suffering , I tried to connect his noble vision with the suffering of Europe‘s latest basket case- Italy.

Nothing doing.

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.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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2 Responses to From Venice with love

  1. Mark Laurence says:

    At the height of Venice’s power as a seafaring nation lending was prohibited by the Catholic church and so it fell to the Jews to finance international trade. They would sit around the port on their benches waiting to do business. If you were looking for money to borrow you would have been directed to the benches, banci in Italian, and hence the origin for the word bank. You’re sitting in the right place to contemplate the the current banking crisis. Enjoy your 50th.

  2. henry tapper says:

    Thanks Mark

    And reading ACT 1 of Merchant of Venice…. Your point is admirably made.

    Many have commented that it was the usurious system employed on the Rialto which, when adopted by the Medici, destroyed the Feudal Order and replaced it with the capatalist system that prevails today.
    Is this hegemony broken or repairable?

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