But temporary visitors can’t revitalize an empty city. Venice could subsidize rents for young people to bring them back. Lower rents would, as they always do when beautiful places become cheap, bring young painters, sculptors, actors, singers, composers, musicians, singers, and artisans. It happened to the Left Bank of Paris in the 1920s. Where trendy artists go—as those of us know who watched the transformation of London’s Notting Hill in the 1980s or the East End in the last few years—money follows. Why won’t Venice give it a try? And why won’t its so-called friends encourage this?
Anyway, if they won’t make Venice affordable for young people to move there, the city will be in permanent peril. So let me make ten quick proposals, any one of which should do the trick:
1. Norman Foster and his fellow signatories should offer some of the millions they made from their own monstrous creations to make up the shortfall from the advertising they insist on banning. They sound like the man who complains when a beautiful woman sells her body to pay the rent but refuses to pay for her rent himself. Hey, fellas, if you won’t give her a hand, shut up.
2. Berlusconi must pay his taxes, and some of that should go to Venice. Or the slums around Naples.
3. To escape Berlusconi’s corrupt control, Venice should resume its status as an independent republic and raise its own revenue.
4. Venice’s major monuments should be dismantled, stone by stone, and reassembled in Las Vegas, where real money can be made from them.
5. The monuments should be left to decay and crumble.
6. The US Army could invade and turn Venice into a giant Green Zone protected by high walls from its former inhabitants.
7. The inheritors of Byzantium, from which Venetian pirates and crusaders looted most of the city’s treasures, should come and take those treasures home. We can then visit them in Istanbul.
8. Disney could assume the city’s management and officially make Venice what it already is for its visitors: a theme park. Disney at least could make it work.
9. The Vatican could move from Rome to Venice, where the Pope’s billions would easily keep the city in good repair until the end of time. (The Church has been advertising its crucifix logo there for centuries.)
10. Hollywood could buy Venice and turn it into a permanent movie set. Merchant Ivory is filming Henry James’s The Aspern Papers there soon, so Venice can go the way of Aspern’s letters in Miss Tita’s hand—destroyed one at a time by someone who could not take any more demands from insincere treasure-hunters.
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