No Swimming, Part II


The news item about the Americans swimming in the Grand Canal reminded me of a nearly lost sight in Venice that I went in search of again today. Not far from the newly-reconstructed Fenice Opera House, overlooking the intersections of the canals Rio Menuo and Rio della Verona (in the alleyway Ramo Primo dei Calegari, I believe it is), there's this old sign which you can barely read. In faded letters, it says, "Divieto di Nuoto!" or, in Italian, "No Swimming!"

It's hard to imagine a time when Italians would have had to be instructed not to, but my Venetian father-in-law has talked about swimming in Venice when he was a child. Then again, about 10 years ago, I saw one Venetian child push another into a canal (and, needless to say, promptly run away), and parents were on the spot immediately, getting him out of the water and stripping and scrubbing him down. I'll have to find out when Venetians stopped swimming in their own canals...

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1 comment:

Michelle said...

My father-in-law says that they stopped swimming in Venetian canals in the 1950s or so. He's not sure if there was anything in particular which led them not to, other than the fact that the water had become less than inviting!