The PBS show Nova centered on Venice this week in a show titled Saving Venice, exploring Mose and other ways that Venice is attempting to protect the city from high water. I learned some new things, getting to see just how wooden pilings were tamped into the lagoon mud to support the buildings. And did you know that Venice’s salt marshes, if they were healthy, could hold more vast amounts of CO2? If only the large ships going into Porto Marghera weren’t destroying them…. Most astonishing was the proposal to pump salt water deep under Venice into the aquifers, slowly raising the entire city.
While the show got a number of things right, I know that the story is much more complex than they showed. There was no mention, for example, of the corruption and delays that kept the Mose gates from being completed decades ago. And there was little time spent on the cruise ships and the vast damage they have done. Still, I hope that people will watch this program to gain a better understanding of the lagoon ecosystem and the urgency to protect it.
Watching this and hearing a story from a kiosk owner on the Zattere made me proud to have collected stories from Venetians who lived through the 2019 acqua alta in my book Venice Rising. Hearing first hand stories is essential to caring enough to make a difference.