Friday, December 19, 2008
Acqua Alta and Donna Leon
After being in Venice for Acqua Alta last week, I read Donna Leon's early Guido Brunetti novel, Acqua Alta, which is a bit more operatic than most of her stories--appropriately, since opera is one of the big topics of the novel. Leon describes very well the annoyance and the strangeness of flooding in Venice--Brunetti goes into a bar where the staff goes on about its business despite several inches of water inside the bar, much less the even higher water outside. I'm pasting in several photos here of water in a shopping street and inside our hotel, plus the metal or wooden platforms that are placed strategically to make it easier for people to get through flooded lobbies or campos or piazzas. There is certainly no place like Venice--and no place where the natives so easily take flooding in their stride. The Brunetti Acqua Alta book is about that resilience in the face of extreme difficulty, but also about ethics, in the realm of art and art theft as well as the Italian non-compliance with the law as in Leon's other novels. What's different here is a mafia-related kidnapping and rescue attempt with overtones of a more conventional beautiful-woman-threatened plot (but Leon's plots are in the end never conventional). I've heard that there are tour operators who now plan trips to Venice explicitly designed to give tourists an Acqua Alta experience--not necessarily something that I would set out to do, but certainly a unique trip. And a very wet Venice is still Venice, after all. There are more of my "holiday pics" at veneziadecember08.blogspot.com, if you're interested.