They've been cleaning the memorial to the women partisans of Venice located off the Viale dei Giardini Pubblici the last couple of afternoons. Sculpted by Augusto Murer in 1961 and set upon what was intended by its designer Carlo Scarpa to be a floating base beside a grouping of istrian stone viewing platforms fixed at varying heights, the joint venture has never quite worked, nor been seen, as intended. Or at least not for very long, as corrosion caused by the lagoon's salt water essentially sunk the floating base and the city council opted to make it as stationary as the istrian cubes alongside it rather than sink funds into repairing and maintaining the base in lagoon-worthy ship-shape. The council also decided, probably wisely, that allowing tourists to clamber upon the istrian stone cubes-- many of them slippery with algae--along the edge of the lagoon presented the prospect of unending lawsuits, in addition to whatever views Scarpa may have envisioned. To this day visitors are kept at a good distance from the work by barriers and warnings.
Not having seen anyone clean the work before, I asked the project supervisor how often they did this: "Ogni anno?" I ventured.
The smile he responded with conveyed both a certain embarrassment and a certain fatalism; he leaned toward me a bit, confidentially, tilting one hand back and forth in a gesture of very loose (and futile) estimate, and said, "Eh, no, due--o tre..."
Or maybe even longer, I understood.
"There's no money," he said simply in Italian. "We use only water in the pressure sprayer," he added, "no chemicals, nothing else, but..." He trailed off into a tilt of the head with which most discussions of the way public funds are managed in Venice conclude: a slight disgusted nod toward how things stand--or lie--and the suspicion that those responsible for running the city aren't exactly partial to its actual residents, nor their monuments.
|And you think you've had some rough pedicures!|