In Venice, hopes for another rebirth after the coronavirus outbreak
Businesses and residents of Venice were hoping to bounce back after 2019's historic flooding, but then came the coronavirus outbreak. What does the future hold now?
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-Here everybody is home. [The government] told us to stay at home. Right now, it's empty. There is almost nothing left. There are now just 50,000 residents. But if you look at the houses, there are no lights on. Because three-fourths of Venice's apartments are for tourists and now they are closed, there is nobody. It destroyed a lot. From that point on, the decline of the city and jobs began. We haven't seen much tourists [from then on]. Then coronavirus came and gave the final blow, stopping it all, all jobs, all [of] the economy. I was born and raised in Venice. And since the coronavirus has exploded, I decided to live on a sailboat. I brought my cat Gastone with me [cluck-cluck]. [I brought my cat] to have some company, considering the limitation for human beings. Lately, to speak with [my mom], we chat by phone or video call. She doesn't want to see me anymore because she is afraid to contract the virus. This thing makes me sad because we are detaching. There is no more human contact because of the fear of contracting the virus. At the moment, I am working because I transport essential goods, luckily. Unlike others, they are all being stopped. They have been left with no work. I hope to continue working, at the moment. I am on part time. We work with masks. We try to keep at least the meter distance, but it's not easy, while working, remembering these rules that are not ordinary in life. -The cost of a shop in Venice is very high. The rent is very high everywhere. You can sustain these costs if you're open. Otherwise, it's completely impossible. This has always been a historical hat shop. It was closed for like 10, 15 years. We've been running it for three years, now. We're kind of old-fashioned. We have only the hats in the store. We may have to, eventually, sell them online. But we were, I think, doing very well and I hope to get back to that point again. I don't know, though. I think it's very optimistic of me to say that. Well, my husband, he also works in tourism, so, for the meantime, it's really a bad situation. There's no income, whatsoever. -The property we manage started at this door, until the bridge. This was the part where we did hospitality, so a quarter was dedicated to hospitality and three-quarters dedicated to what could be events, exhibitions. If you ask around [about] Ca' Zanardi or the parties they organized, no one will see anyone tell you, "I do not know it". I'm sorry because [I've been] 12 years inside that place. My daughter was born inside. I lived above there. A piece of my heart went away with this activity. Really. Let's say that the moment we gave back the keys, we lost a little over 45,000 Euros. Also, because the things damaged by the high tide, to be refunded, must have been rebought. -High tide is an exceptional event we usually have during November/December. So, at the end, we were quite lucky because we didn't have too many damage. We lose a fridge, a dishwasher, but, all the bottles were safe. All the food in the fridges were kept safe. So, then, the problem was all the cancellation we had. We thought, "We can manage that. It happens. So we can relax just a bit more and think about the next season, springtime". We felt optimistic. At the beginning, we didn't expect this pandemic. We heard something was happening in China, but the information, at the beginning, was, "It's like a flu". Okay. We can manage a flu, I think. In this moment, if I think about the high tide, I say, "Okay. That wasn't so bad". This is bad, what's happening right now, because two months of being closed, it's terrible for our business. I think, just talking about the COVID virus, we lost kind of 90,000; 100,000 Euros. Prosecco [continues in Italian]. We start with a delivery with wine, the first week of the lockdown because it was easier and then, my partner, that managed the kitchen, decide even to create a tiny menu, really easy, for the delivery. In this moment, me and my partner, we had this 600 Euros from the government as professional [mobile rings] and sorry. Scusami. Anise Gelato. Buongiorno. Since yesterday, people can even order and come here to take away. We are fighting because we start this thing with the delivery. It's working, just a bit, but we are few people here, living here, so, I don't know. It's a way to keep going and we are fighting to do this, but, actually, if I think about the future, I'm just a bit scared. -The government gave us this paper to fill out daily, to be able to go out of our homes. Write the reasons why we go out and where. A valid reason to go out is for grocery shopping, buying medicine, and urgent issues. We can move 200 meters from home. For me, it's a problem because, within 200 meters, I don't have a fruit-and-vegetable shop. I don't have a local market. I just have one supermarket. I am used to buying from local markets. I prefer to help the local economy. Especially during this hard moment, I prefer to give my money to little [businesses], instead of feeding the big distributors. Guys, thank you very much. All the best! -Thanks. You too. -Stay cool! Guys, have a nice day! I think it's wrong to see [commuting by boat] as a threat, to get a fine and have my boat seized. The fine [if I drive my boat] is between 2,000 to 4,000 Euro. [singing] Oh! Here we go, good man. -Salute, old friend. -Salute! -We also have a city whose economy is strongly dependent on tourism. Even if a lot of people are working in the tourist industry, in the lower levels of this industry, are gaining much, much less on the wealth pyramid than a few private companies and a few individuals. It's a poor economy with a lot of money getting in, but being concentrated in a few hands. The danger of this impressive decline of population is the specter of the whole [indistinct] city. When your population is reduced to a third that one you used to have just 60 years ago, you're facing an urban organism that cannot renovate itself anymore. 'Cause population is aging. Young people and low-income people are pushed away from the city. Every business in the city was turning into a touristic facility and this produced the rise of prices for everyday life. Right now, we'll face a big unemployment wave. A lot of people will lose their job and so we don't know, yet, if, also with lowering prices of the rental market, these people would be able to afford a housing solution. There is the total need of an intervention from the state to help people to face their needs in this emergency phase, and after. This no-tourism situation is kind of further destroying the city fabric. We need to diversify the urban economy of Venice. -I would rather prefer to open the restaurant how we always have been after the summer because maybe it will be easier. In this moment, I would prefer only work with delivering and take-away because how can you think to go to a restaurant, keep distance, eating with your mask and maybe gloves? I don't like to serve people with gloves and masks. I mean, when you go to the restaurant, you don't go to the restaurant only for food, but because of the human experience of that. And this new ruse, I don't know how to manage [laughs] to work as I would like to. -The only way to start again is from the residents. We can't see Venice with windows closed. Many bed-and-breakfasts, many renters will not reopen anymore. So, already on social media, even if you look on newspapers, [advertisements for] rentals to residents, things you hadn't seen in 20 years. So, starting from there, the more residents, the more need for services. More services create work. I think, within two years, we are back to the top. -No one is saying that tourism is not good for Venice, because it's one of our main resources, almost the only resource. But it is a treasure we have to preserve. There's a phrase here in Venice, "Andrà tutto bene," in Italy everywhere, which means, "everything will be okay". And that's what we're all trying to think and be positive, but we also have to make that happen. =Together, unite, as we are now closed in our houses or boats to defeat this virus. Only together, we might be able to deal with the hard task the future put ahead of us. It's useless to fight one another. We must have a commonality. I think this could be an occasion not to miss, an occasion to change our way of living. Revolutionize the system that we created ourselves. Goodbye to all, from Venice. -[singing in Italian] ♪ E le genti ♪ ♪ Che passeranno ♪ ♪ Mi diranno ♪ ♪ "Che bel fior" ♪