|Lock seller on the Accademia Bridge|
Perhaps the title of this post gives the wrong impression and I should say "symbols of love for sale," as actual prostitution would, in the long run, be less unsightly than what I saw being sold on the Accademia Bridge this afternoon.
Where and when did this fad of sweethearts scribbling their name on a lock and then defacing a bridge with it began? I know that it's certainly not an old Venetian tradition, as I don't recall a single lock on a bridge when I visited as a teen in the 1980s, nor do I recall a single lock on the Accademia Bridge when I used to cross it nearly every day for a month at the beginning of the '90s. Did it come from some Hollywood movie? A pop song?
Whatever its origins, it no longer symbolizes anything to me besides petty vandalism. And of the least original sort, too.
Now, I understand that when we are in love we do stupid things and ridiculous things and even clichèd tacky things. I have perhaps done some of them myself (I'm not admitting anything here). And when we are in love we are also capable of the most obnoxious and narcissistic behavior, believing as we do at such times that--as the old Smiths' song memorably puts it--"the sun shines out of our behinds."
And perhaps if there was ever a time when only 10 or 20 locks adorned the Accademia Bridge they may even have been a bit "cute" and had the air of spontaneity about them.
But now that there are 10- or 20,000 of them on the bridge and sunshiney-butted couples buy them from some guy with a magic marker whose night job is selling those glowing whirly-gig thingies in Piazza San Marco, it really is no longer even vaguely cute. It is stale and, yes, a stupid act of vandalism.
For please remember that Venice is a city groaning beneath such budget problems that students have to supply their own toilet paper in some schools. The city really doesn't need to direct funds to cutting off the thousands of locks that at some point really should come off. Unless the city--heeding the advice of an Italian politician who once said, "If you ignore a problem long enough it tends to resolve itself"--is simply to going wait for them to rust away.
I feel for the guy whose job it is to sell them, and who's just trying to scrape together a euro or two, but if the local authorities are going to allow this to go on, then perhaps we'll see the day when some clever entrepreneur sells small cans of spray paint to sweeties wanting to really leave their mark on the city. Actually, judging by the city's quantity of graffiti, perhaps some entrepreneur already does.
If lovers visiting Venice really feel the need to follow a path already laid out for them in expressing their love, may I suggest something taken from a movie I have actually never seen? The film is called A Little Romance, and though for all these years I believed Brooke Shields to be its ingenue star, a quick Google search just revealed to me that it was Dianne Lane. Laurence Olivier was also in it, and I believe it was he who advised the young lovers that if they were to kiss in a gondola beneath the Bridge of Sighs at sunset their love would last forever.
Now doesn't that sound more romantic than buying a cheap lock from some guy with a magic marker? Sure, a gondola ride may be insanely expensive, but lovers, after all, are supposed to be out of their minds.
For more on this topic: http://veneziablog.blogspot.it/2013/03/love-for-sale-part-2-crime-self.html