Ahh….Venice. It’s beautiful. To the remaining 65,000 true Venetians, it stands as the last remaining symbol of a once great and powerful empire. For centuries,Venice’s place along the northern Adriatic shores was the strategic and economic epicenter from the Middle Ages that lasted well into the Renaissance. Its rich culture and even richer coffers have placed it squarely into history’s most amazing empires. It’s waning regional influence (lost to Portugal) and eventual loss of independence (to Napoleon Bonaparte) are but blemishes to its citizens who are still proud of what remains of one of the world’s true wonders.
Today, Venice’s battles are not with short Frenchmen, but instead with the elements. Venice’s troubles with it foundations, climate change and cruise ships are well documented, but a very insidious problem has emerged, and your love might be to blame. Yes, yours. And that person you are in love with.
There is no question that Venice is romantic. I took my wife there for our 8th anniversary. When I started researching places to see and restaurants to eat, I recalled a tradition in Paris that consists of locks and bridges. Star-crossed lovers head to the bridges of Paris that cross the Seine River to ‘lock their love together forever’ by engraving or writing their names on a padlock, locking it to a bridge and throwing the key away forever into the depths of the river. Que romantic song here.
Being that this trip to Italy was full of romantic undertones, I was delighted to see that the tradition was extended to the bridges of Venice. After all, isn’t Venice all about bridges? And romance? You betcha.
As it turns out, Venice has novelist Federico Moccia to thank (blame) for the craze. His 2006 novel, I Want You, has inspired many a pair of lovers to ascend into Venice and lock their love into the city. I was on board, and excitedly ordered a red tinted, fancy engraved lock with our names and the date of the trip off the internet and have it shipped in time for our trip.
And then something happened. Oops. CANCEL BUTTON.
Why you ask? Did my wife burn dinner that night? (sorry honey, your food is amazing) No. I continued my research into our Venice trip and discovered that those very same lover’s locks were destroying the city, lock by lock and bridge by bridge.
The locks, numbering in the hundreds on some bridges, weigh down and strain the ancient structures. Iron gates weaken and rust, and the stone on many bridges crack and chip because of them. When love-bridge-locking space is limited, the issue migrates to other structures. Lamp posts, fences, door locks and other areas are all feeling the weight of YOUR love.
The problem has become so great that it now ILLEGAL to place these locks just about anywhere in the city. Yes, you read right, your love locks are illegal, and if caught, you will be cited. If you do manage to place one out of a constables’ sight, don’t worry: bolt cutters will soon be on their way to cut them off. There will be no locks as a permanent reminder of your love, at least not in Venice.
Oh, and hopefully you saved a fish from choking on that key.