National Geographic : 2009 Aug
• self-in icted---the sequelae of the drive to wring every last euro, yen, and dollar out of tourism. " ey don t want tourists," observes a former resident, "but they want their money. American tourists are best. ey spend. Eastern Europeans bring their own food and water. Perhaps they buy a little plastic gondola." ere is talk, always talk (this is Italy) about limiting tourists, taxing tourists, imploring them to avoid the high seasons of Easter and Carnival, but tourism---intertwined with the loss of resident population, complicated by the power of hoteliers, gondoliers, and water taxi drivers, who have an interest in maximizing the in ux of visitors---de es simple solutions. "Let me remind you, the loss of population... is not only a problem in Venice but in all historical towns, not only Italy," cautioned Mayor Cacciari. " e so-called exodus, which dates back very far in time, is deep rooted in the lodging issue." Redemption may be out of reach. "It is too late," Gherardo Ortalli, the historian, says. "Nineveh is nished. Babylon is nished. Venice will remain. at is, the stones will remain. e people won t." But for now there is still life as well as death in Venice. Franco Filippi walks at night in search of carvings on weathered walls. Silvia Zanon leaves for school, crosses San Marco only to fall in love with the city again, and, assuming it is in season, you can still man- age to buy an eggplant. "Venice may die," Cacciari insists. "But it will never become a museum. Never." Perhaps. In 1852 art critic John Ruskin wrote that the Doge s Palace would not be standing in ve years. A century and a half later, it does. To glide from the slate green waters of the lagoon past San Giorgio Maggiore to the San There is life in Venice (440 births in 2007), but an aging population, falling birthrate, and families who leave (by barge, of course) for more affordable housing on the main- land have reduced residents from 150,000 to 60,000 in five decades.