18 January 2020 – Colours


It was a shock a couple of days ago, opening the shutters and not having to blink in momentary blindness as my eyes adapted to the winter sunshine. The grey only lasted a few hours, but it was tough. So imagine the shock when I woke in the middle of last night to hear rain. We’d forgotten what it sounded like over our month of brilliance.


Down on Lake Trasimeno, before the rain returned…


And the first full moon of 2020…

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6 January 2020

I have been known, I know, to crow about how you can more or less forget garden exertions in winter. But since a couple of days before Christmas when the drear damp that had plagued us for weeks gave way to pale crispy blue, I have found myself resenting every moment I’m not raking up the soggy half-decayed leaves that are damaging my so-called lawns or grappling with the crouch grass that ran rampant across my garden beds all through autumn inundations. It feels like a liberation.

We’ve been walking too – not much I admit but in speedy mediumly ambitious spurts very locally. I love walks that don’t involve cars. Striding straight out the front door is so satisfying. As L contemplates the little illustrated walking guide to the Amalfi Coast he’s going to write for guests at Le Sirenuse, I’m thinking: perhaps I should do the same (in a slightly humbler fashion) for my guests at Pieve Suites. I’ll see what I can come up with.

Market chats with strangers: I love them.

There was hardly anyone at my favourite vegetable stall as I rushed by last Saturday morning, so I stopped to avoid coming back later at a more convenient time for me only to find myself waiting endlessly in the usual scrum. The vegetable boys are kindly, but fast-talking and sardonic. For the past 20+ years they have worked their land down near Lake Bolsena all week (they also have an agriturismo which I’m told is lovely) and brought their produce to Città della Pieve on Saturday morning.

“What are you doing with all that bedding?” said Roberto nodding towards the big white bed cover I had in my arms. I explained that I had just washed it and was taking it back to Pieve Suites. Then I explained what Pieve Suites was, as I’d never told him about it before.

“So you rent to Germans?” he asked.
“Why on earth Germans?!” I said, knowing what was coming.
“Aren’t you German?”
“Of course not! You’ve known me for years Roberto: you should know that! In fact… I’m Italian.”
“Hah! What kind of Italian do you think you are? You’ve got to be joking!”
“I have an Italian passport (actually I don’t, but I could) and I’m very very proud of it,” I told him.

A huge snort from Roberto.

“You see?” piped up the only other person at the stall. “She’s proud. Are we proud? Not at all.”
And off he went on a long elucidation of Italy’s glories. “And do we appreciate all this? No, all we do is criticise and complain. We don’t know how lucky we are!”
“But I, on the other hand, chose it,” I pointed out (as I always do: I’m a bit of a broken record on this theme). “I knew what I was letting myself in for and I chose it, not like you people who just happened to be born here. And now I have every right to be proud of it.”
“That’s how we should be!” said the other vegetable purchaser enthusiastically. But Roberto just snorted and looked at us pityingly.
Poveri voi!” he said. Pathetic, both of you.

His vegetables are wonderful.

We did our main Christmas meal on the evening of December 24th this year. C and her partner had to rush off to his parents straight after lunch on Christmas day so it seemed logical. I was in the midst of my usual organised chaos in the kitchen at about 7.10pm when the phone rang. On the other end was a man from Telecom Italia.

Our phone line has been driving us up the wall since mid November. It, like me, doesn’t like winter. It doesn’t like wind or rain. For weeks it had been intermittent, our adsl connection had been grindingly slow, our land line dropping in and out. Infuriating.

I had reported problems over and over again. Technicians had popped down to the house and fiddled with wires; men with chainsaws had cut away vegetation beneath the poles. Still it came and went. Then we lost it completely, a week before Christmas, dead as a dodo. Miraculously, on 23 December, a whole swarm of Telecom boys had appeared in the valley and removed a tree that had fallen on the line and brought it down. Merry Christmas! But even newly patched up, the connection continued hopeless.

And now, at 7.15pm on Christmas eve, I found myself on the phone to a slow-speaking man with an air of resigned despair, the weight of the telecommunications world on his shoulders, who was determined to talk me through all the possible convolutions of what could be wrong with the way our phones and modems and routers and boosters are plugged into our system. Picture me with the phone lodged between shoulder and ear as I chop and peel and mix, trying to be as patient as I could because he seemed to be so quietly determined to solve all my problems that I really didn’t feel I could let him down.

On and on he droned, for about quarter of an hour, sounding mildly disappointed – like a parent who doesn’t want to let on her child see how catastrophic its exam results are – at those points where I told him that no, right then I really couldn’t go upstairs and unplug everything and plug it in again. I felt I was letting him down terribly.

But there just came a point when I couldn’t take any more. My neck was aching and I had burnt my hand on the oven doing complicated baking manoeuvres with a phone threatening to slip into the heat from its position under my chin.

“Sorry,” I interrupted him, “but aren’t you planning to have any Christmas dinner?” Italians tend to celebrate on the evening of 24th. He sounded a little crestfallen – though also perhaps secretly proud.

“No, no, I don’t have any plans to. Someone has to be here to handle emergencies,” which hardly describes a phone line which at that point had been failing on and off for six weeks. “Anyway, Christmas really isn’t my thing,” he added wistfully.

I was almost tempted to invite him to join us. Truly, Telecom Italia moves in mysterious ways.

***Shortly after posting this piece I bumped into Nuvola the donkey and her owner Ettore (pictured at the top) trudging down our lane. Both looked disgruntled.

“She was meant to accompany the three wise men on their procession through town,” said Ettore. Yesterday was Epiphany, 6 January, when the three wise men (or kings, depending on the version you choose) dropped by to see the newborn baby Jesus in Bethlehem. “But she just put the brakes on and refused to take a single step. She made me look terrible!”

Poor Nuvola. She has been subjected to all kinds of indignities over the past few days, being mauled about by kids (and nuns) in the local kindergarten and officiating at various costumed yuletide events. Maybe she’d just had enough.

Or maybe she knows her Christmas folk tales too well. Who ever heard of a wise man (or a king for that matter) on a tiny donkey? They needed imperious camels or perhaps elephants to carry them to the stable, not a delicate donkey fed up with festive brouhaha.

All of which goes to prove that even a CdP ass is better informed than many right-wing Italian MPs – the kind who invoke (their) religious beliefs as some kind of gold standard –  who fell by the wayside when asked where Jesus was born (in Italian only, sorry). And then they moan that we’ve lost the true meaning of Christmas.

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20 December 2019

I’m finding the slide towards Christmas harder with every year that passes. I like the family coming together. I like the decorative part of the season: the tree-dressing and… well that’s it really.

The thing that gets me is presents. I’m hating presents more and more. I don’t like thinking of them, or buying them or – more than anything – receiving them. There’s nothing I need really (except perhaps a hedge trimmer but for some reason no one wants to give me one of those; they say it’s not Christmassy enough).

Quite a large part of this is due to laziness/inertia on my part. It used to be easy when we lived in the city: there was so much frantic Christmas retail going on all around that you were dragged along by the tide, ending up with a dense Christmas tree understory of things you could quite well have lived without. Here in the country, on the other hand, it requires effort: you actually have to pro-actively go somewhere and think things through rather than just happening by chance across the perfect(-ish) gift. Which is tough.

How did I become so anti-festive when I live in a place where really rather tasteful (well, it’s all relative and at least it’s not over-the-top) Christmas decorations don’t go up until a perfectly acceptable date in December, where retail frenzy is represented by a sprinkling of ‘scenic’ wooden huts selling trinkets that people look at but rarely buy, where yuletide excitement consists of a “Music of the 1960s and ’70s” night in the theatre to gather funds for the local old peoples’ home or horse-and-carriage rides around the centro storico at weekends?

This year we have the slightly surreal addition of piped Christmas-themed music in town, which gives it an air of an outdoor supermarket without much on the shelves – and, for that matter, without shelves. Christmas-themed music here is always a bit hit-and-miss. Italy has nothing like our Anglo-Saxon tradition of carols, so they borrow, mixing Silent Night and Away in a Manger quite indiscriminately and incongruously with Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Unwittingly sacred and profane.

Back in Rome we’d drag our heathen selves to All Saints’ Anglican church to belt out carols with the Anglo comunity, and scoff mince pies and innoculate ourselves against the over-decorated yuletide streets outside with mulled wine. Often we’d drag Italian friends along. They’d emerge dewey-eyed and full of wonder: “but how come you all know the words? It’s amazing!” Carols, I’d explain, are imprinted on our DNA.

Another major seasonal bugbear is my burgeoning allergy to spending money on people (even the people dearest to me) who really don’t need much, when there are so many people who do – and by extension, to spending money on things that don’t merit it

As the seasonal Spirit of Scrooge grips me more and more tightly, I find myself ranting loudly about badly spent resources.

Way back during my acqua alta Venice visit, I found the number of crowd-funding initiatives springing up quite bewildering. Of course there were many many people and institutions who/which absolutely merited all the support they could get to pull themselves out of the mud; I listed some of them here. But there were many more appeals for financial help which left me thinking “sorry? what? but don’t you have insurance?” Am I being unfair? (One Venetian resident I talked to told me that everything they valued had been shifted to upper floors, leaving only crates of her dearly departed mother-in-law’s stuff downstairs where the high tide washed through. “We really didn’t know what to do with it. Now nature has come to our aid.”) My worry is that the dubious appeals devalue the really worthwhile ones. I so want to see donors’ kindness going to causes that merit it.

From there, through many orders of magnitude, I find myself raging at a wild variety of things, right up to the thought that Michael Bloomberg is blowing an estimated $4.2 million dollars per day on ads for a presidential campaign that is so clearly destined to fail. Until suddenly I get a grip on myself and think: “maybe you should get out more.”

For me, the ideal present is a donation to something I care about*. I admit, this sounds goody goody but really, more than anything it gets me out of the terrible bind of having to pretend to have always been dying to possess that thing really quite dispensable thing.

There’s a new traffic police(wo)man patrolling the valley road from Moiano to Castiglione del Lago, who has local drivers up in arms. In fact they’ve formed a committee: il comitato dei multati seriali della SS71 (serially fined users of the SS71, which is the name of the road). There has been at least one noisy meeting which I was tempted to attend – not because I’ve been fined (I haven’t), but to hear what kind of logic they would use to put the ticket-issuer in the wrong and themselves in the right.

I was away, though, and missed the event which apparently ended with all the injured parties agreeing to look into the possibility of a class action. So I’m still in the dark as to whether anyone brought up the obvious point: if people are finding themselves with three or four fines daily from three or four hell-for-leather journeys along this long straight flat stretch of tarmac (many sections of which have recently been resurfaced meaning that speediness no long always results in crushed wheel rims and damaged axles) it is only because they’ve been exceeding the speed limit and therefore breaking the law. They couldn’t possibly be fined if there were behaving as the rules demand. They are, in a nutshell, guilty as charged.

Risks and bets are part of everyone’s life I reckon, and doing 90kph along a long straight smooth stretch of road where the limit is 70kph is a risk that I, personally, am willing to take probably rather too often.

Even more ridiculously, I pretty sure that there are evenings when I emerge from a dinner party or a restaurant with enough alcohol in my system to get me in trouble should I be stopped. I’m not a heavy drinker, especially when I have a drive home ahead but… well, just one more glass perhaps, despite the lurking fear that the final sip could result in my license being revoked and therefore being deprived of my livelihood because if I’m not independently mobile, I can’t work. You’d think that would put the fear of god into me. But no.

It’s a bit of a cliché to say that Italians consider rules not so much as proscriptions but as gentle promptings – that a red traffic light is little more than a suggestion (it isn’t) and that taxes should be paid only as an absolute last resort (not, for the vast majority of honest souls, true). But at some level there is definitely a resistance to authority that Italians can’t shake off. The class action will not be against the fines themselves so much as against the fact that there was no indication anywhere (in the form of a hi-vis speed camera or big flashing sign) that the risk levels had gone up. That’s just not fair play! When authority surreptitiously tips chances in its favour, resentment sets in.

A tale of two cities: we’ve been to Naples and to Rome, the former a heaving joyous mass of humanity and the latter looking eerily August-empty. Admittedly we were in Naples over the weekend and Rome mid-week but in the capital only the decorations gave the seasonal game away.

In Naples, L had to interview Marco Ferrigno, the latest in many generations of producers of nativity scene figures. His narrow, figurine-dense shop in via San Gregorio Armeno is an over-stuffed wonderland and his non-stop top-volume banter makes it feel even fuller. He was just back from Milan where he’d been decorating the shop windows of Dolce & Gabbana. Dovetailing Neapolitan creativity and Milanese efficiency, he said, was an explosive experience: the whole country should take note.

Climbing up to the first-floor workshop were clients who invest in another minor masterpiece each year, people who had commissioned portraits of loved ones in the guise of Holy Birth attendants to add to their presepe and bewildered out-of-towners just trying to avoid domino-effect devastation.

At the other end of the scale, he had to interview Sylvain Bellenger, the charming Frenchman who runs the Capodimonte museum. I had already luxuriated in a long, slow tramp around the palazzo and its superb collection as L did the official chat. But afterwards, the director frog-marched us around once again, explaining his vision and his plans and milking us for reactions and comments in a way that was hugely stimulating fun.

When you run a place like this, he said, you end up only seeing the faults. I like visiting Capodimonte through fresh eyes.

Any time, Sylvain, any time.

I know I fill my blog with “Italy: everything difficult, nothing impossible” tales but yesterday’s experience in Rome was an extreme example so I’ll risk telling the tale (as concisely as possible). To be employed with her new NGO in Greece, C needs an arcane piece of paper: a document confirming that her official birth certificate exists, stating the names of both her parents, in all EU languages. This piece of paper can be obtained through a long postal odyssey, or by going yourself (or sending your mother) to the town council office in the place where you were born. I was going to Rome so great, I’d drop by the Anagrafe.

Fine, they told me after an hour’s wait which gave me time to admire the beautiful detailing of this Fascist-era construction. I waited for the piece of paper to be handed over. Er, no: you have to come back in two weeks’ time. If you think about it, this is not entirely unreasonable: locating a paper document from 1990, checking its validity, transcribing the information, passing it between offices – all odd ideas in an age where everything is digital but also somehow comforting in how it makes paper so crucial.

But… the whole point of my going to the Anagrafe is that C needs the document immediately and she will only be here for a few days over Christmas when going to Rome and collecting papers would be difficult. Two weeks is too long.

“But I need it now!” I wailed. No way. Except.

The very nice girl (they were all extremely pleasant) told me to go to another office where they might just be able to call the official records office (a completely different department though housed in the same vast building) and see if they could speed up the process of digging the original out of the vaults, scanning it, and sending it through to the Anagrafe.

No, it seemed not. The young man at the desk seemed completely flummoxed by my request, but did just happen to mention that the records office was right upstairs – not that the general public were allowed anywhere near it… but I could just sneak up and see if there was anyone still there who’d talk to me. By this time it was after 5pm. The chances were slim.

I went upstairs and knocked on the door. Nothing. But a busy looking older woman hurried by and asked what I wanted. I told her. Two weeks, she said. I explained my situation. Hmmm, well, how about tomorrow at 11am? No, I would have left Rome already. (I think my English accent might have helped here: I suspect she thought I had a plane to catch.) Sit there signora, so I sat looking as woebegone as possible on a seat outside the door while she disappeared through it, armed with C’s name and date of birth.

Twenty minutes later the birth certificate had been located, scanned and sent, and the Anagrafe office on the far side of the sprawling building had produced for me an insignificant-looking scrap of A4 paper with birth details in various languages. It seemed so unimpressive after all my efforts that I felt quite deflated. But it’s what she needs. And a two-week process had been reduced to quite a lot of mild-manned determination on my part and an after-office-hours tour de force by kindly Rome council employees.

I love how you can do that in Italy: an abiding belief that rules and regulations can be adapted to personal requirements is not such a bad thing after all.


There’s a Caravaggio down there


*Some of my favourite causes:

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29 November 2019

1129GIt’s the penultimate day of November and my rainfall total for the month is 299mm***. That’s the biggest monthly accumulation ever recorded by me. Which isn’t really saying hugely much because I only bothered to start adding up the monthly figures in 2016 but all the same – it’s a whole lot of water, and unquestionably more than the 94mm-odd which is our November average.

After our splendid October, November has been joy-sappingly drear. Only autumn colours – which arrived with the rain and have been superb… though it would be nice to have some sunny illumination to highlight them – have made the darkness bearable. They came on lightning quick, and I feared they would drop off the same way. But no, they’re clinging beautifully.

The ones that have surprised me are the mulberries by the front gate. They’re usually the harbingers of autumn, turning acid yellow and falling well before the others. But this year they’re just beginning to turn as the others begin to fall. What strange mix of moisture and daylight and temperature caused that surprise? Trees are nothing if not mysterious.

Last week, in a spirit (I hope) of curiosity rather than self-righteousness, we decided we’d go single-use-plastic-free for seven days. That was Sunday. We needed milk to brew up some home-made yoghurt (brownie points) but at the supermarket I was faced with a stark choice: milk in a plastic bottle, or milk in a plastic-lined tetrapak carton with a plastic screw-top lid. I opted for the latter (worst of two evils?) and vowed to begin my plastic-free week properly on Monday.

That was easy. We had a kitchen full of food. No need to go to the plastic-filled shops. Ok, the new liquidiser goblet we’d ordered arrived swathed in bubble wrap, but that wasn’t our fault, was it? We’d have to live with that. And, we were told, there was a local farmer who might sell us milk. True, it was sheep’s milk but that would probably be all right. Did we follow this up? No.

1129AOn Tuesday we needed bananas. When I got to the supermarket, other necessities presented themselves to me and I (rather ostentatiously) weighed, placed loose things in my basket and stuck the sticky price labels around the edge of the basket to present one by one at the till. Then after all my efforts I noticed that there were paper bags lurking beneath the piles of plastic ones. I could have used them. Not so cleverly virtuous then. The little plastic stickers on the apples identifying the producer irked me terribly when I noticed them at home.

On Wednesday I stopped by our favourite cheese shop in Chiusi Scalo to get some ricotta. Before I gathered my wits together the girl behind the counter had dropped it into a seal-able plastic tub. “I wanted it in paper!” I wailed, but she said it was pointless at that point because she’d just have to throw out the plastic container anyway.

And that’s when I gave up. Pathetic. Where are my principles?

In the market last Saturday, where the boys at my favourite produce stall tease me weekly when I demand that everything be tipped loose into my big bags (but do it nonetheless), Roberto decided to lecture me about how his plastic bags are made of corn starch and completely bio-degradable therefore I was being ridiculous. I pointed out that the raw materials had to be harvested and processed and transported then the finished product had to be transported and distributed and that in fact those so-called biodegradable bags really need to be industrially composted anyway.

“But I throw them in my fields. After a month or so they’ve more or less disappeared!”

So how many of those bags does he throw away each week? Maybe 20, maybe more? That’s 80 bags strewn round his fields in various states of decomposition at any given time. Leaving aside aesthetics, is that even practical? I don’t think so.

Of course long before I’d finished trying to explain this to him he had given me a despairing look and wandered off to another customer. Am I very boring? Perhaps there is an element of self-rightiousness here after all.

Driving down the lane one night a couple of weeks ago, we passed a beautiful little owl sitting on the slim trunk of a recently decapitated bush on the verge. I know nothing at all about owls but I’m going to guess it was a barn owl, with its gorgeous white moonface. It watched us with wide wondering eyes, unperturbed, as we rattled past.

“We could take it to Athens with us,” said B, partner of my daughter C. They were just about to move to Greece.
“Er, why?”
“You know, owls to Athens.”

B is Swiss. Something was clearly being lost in translation.

It is, apparently, the Swiss version of “taking coals to Newcastle”. But the Swiss, I have since found out, have simply purloined an ancient Greek saying. Athens is the city of the goddess of wisdom Athena/Minerva, and Athena’s symbol is an owl. Ancient Athenian coins were stamped with the picture of an owl. So taking more owls to the city was otiose, hence the saying.

It’s so much more beautiful than coals and Newcastle. I’m going to use it from now on.

And while we’re on the subject of the ancient Greeks.

I took a pile of L’s shirts to Rita’s funny old dry cleaning shop to iron.

“Where’s your daughter these days?” she asked. Rita likes to be informed of everybody’s movements.
“She’s moved to Athens.” Blank look. “Greece.”
“Oh, Greece!” Short silence. “Is it… dangerous?”
“No! Of course not!”
“But are they, at least, er, Europeans?”

Rita’s curiosity bumps up against a world view circumscribed by having rarely set foot outside CdP. She is genuinely, kindly fascinated by everything but not always sure what the right reaction is to the information she gleans. In this question, ‘Europeans’ falls somewhere between ‘Christian’ and ‘white’, or maybe a mixture of the two. I’m absolutely sure that Rita has no objection to people of other beliefs or colours; I’m convinced that she’d greet them in the same affably bumbling way that she greets everyone.

I pull myself up to my full height, which is about twice Rita’s (though she’s almost twice as wide as I am).

“Rita! The Greeks! the ancient Greeks! They’re the cornerstone of our European civilisation!” I tell her sternly.
Ah, sì! I greci. Antichi. Grandiosi!” she gasps, suddenly full of classical fervour.


Taking part in ‘sardine‘ protests in Perugia

This week a friend who speaks very little Italian asked me to go with her to Perugia’s Silvestrini hospital – a healthcare city on the outskirts of Perugia itself – for some urgent tests. We located the right department in the vast complex, took a number, then sat down and awaited our turn to talk to the women at the reception desk and were promptly accosted by an elderly man in a white coat (doctor? nurse? self-appointed busy body? impossible to say) who seemed dead set on telling us that we were doing everything wrong. Wrong place probably, but wrong paperwork definitely: there was an official prescription from the CdP doctor missing, and there was no way these tests could possibly be done.

Except. Hang on.

Off he bumbled, then returned to beckon us through to the microbiologist whose name was on the CdP doctor’s note. She shook her head and said, nope, wrong kind of request. I explained that my friend had no national health coverage and was aware that she’d have to pay for the tests. The microbiologist looked worried. No way.

Except. Hang on.

And so she led us back to the original desk and got the woman there to see what could be done. The elderly man weighed in. “You know you’ll have to pay. I mean, you’ll have to pay. Pay, you know? I hope you have private insurance. You have private insurance? Phew! Just as well!”

A bit of fiddling with a computer, a bit of concerned consulting with colleagues, and two minutes later: “that’ll be €5.20.”

Five euros, twenty cents. Everyone looked shell-shocked as we handed the money over. Having to charge someone the full price. Scandalous.

Italians moan about their healthcare system everywhere. They moan about our little CdP hospital which if you ask me performs miracles; and they moan about this labyrinthine hi-tech hospital-city on the outskirts of Perugia. But there’s a reason why Italy ranks so high in international healthcare comparisons (see here and here) and it becomes crystal clear when you need something, fast. Of course the all-purpose rule of  ‘everything difficult, nothing impossible’ has to be applied here. You have to know how to work the system and run the gauntlet of catastrophism before emerging with what you want.

Even before we’d handed over the unthinkable sum, the microbiologist was back, waving a piece of paper with neatly printed analysis results. And so we exited to find the car in the immense carparks that surround the Silvestrini hospital-city. All of which are free. The moaners don’t know how lucky they are.

***It reached 304 by the end of the month.

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Acqua alta, Venice. A photo essay

Between one exceptional tide and another, a casual visitor to Venice this week might not even notice the damage that water is doing to lives and livelihoods and property and morale. Because as always, Venetians have mobilised to keep things running, as far as is possible with burnt-out electrical appliances, and ruined goods and belongings drenched with sea water.

Acqua alta happens every year, true, but this week’s record highs have left Venetians feeling more helpless, more wounded, more furious and more frustrated than ever. Flood defences are a long-running saga with no end in sight; Mammon takes precedence over the safeguarding of the lagoon’s delicate ecological balance. The fabric and the soul of this extraordinary, unique city are being shaken to their core. Can we really not find a solution?

You can read more of my thoughts about acqua alta in Venice here.

There are (short-term) ways to help.
The city council has set up a bank account for donations: Comune di Venezia-Emergenza acqua alta. Mark donations as ‘contribution for tide emergency’ IBAN: IT 24 T 03069 02117 100000 018767 BIC: BCITITMM
To help Venetians whose businesses have suffered, add goods from Venetian artisans and shops to your Christmas buying list. There are lots of #VeniceGiftGuide posts on Twitter, thanks to @DreamOfVenice
El Felze is an organisation grouping artisans who make gondolas and gondola parts. Their workshops tend to be at water level, which means that they suffered hugely in the exceptional high water. To help them get back on their feet, you can donate to Associazione El Felze IBAN IT90 P 05034 02070 000000100273 SWIFT BAPPIT21709 marking your payment “donazione per sostegno artigiani”.
There has been severe damage to the Carlo Scarpa-designed ground floor of the splendid Galleria Querini Stampalia. You can donate to the restoration fund here – IBAN: IT 76 O 010 0502 0000 0000 0032 500 (mark donation ‘Acqua Alta 12 novembre 2019) or donate through Paypal via their website.
Duri i Banchi/Love, together with Venessia, is collecting funds for Venetian families hit hard by the high water of the past few days. 100% of money donated will be distributed. You can donate through the Duri i Banchi website.
Venice’s Ca’ Foscari university has also set up an emergency fund: you can find it here.
Manuscripts in the library of Venice’s (music) Conservatorio suffered serious water damage. They’re looking for expert restorers to help them salvage as much as possible.
The Giudecca studio of artist Claudia Corò was devastated by acqua alta. You can help her out here.
Many Venetian bookshops have been trying to selling flood-damaged books at reduced prices to move stock. The Siae (Italian publishers’ association) has set up a fund to help the stores get back on their feet.
Please message me about other initiatives/organisations which I can flag up.

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