The move from the Italian mainland into the Venetian Lagoon to escape the threat (or reality) of destruction by the Trans-Alpine invaders most certainly include the too normal panic-driven escape at the last-minute by “late responders”.
However, many communities had substantial time between warning and event to allow a reasoned response, including planning and preparation for their move – particularly prior to the second and third waves!
Some migrant groups reaching Venice from specific towns or cities would certainly plan, attempt and succeed at maintaining their previously existing civic order, institutions and symbiotic relationships beginning immediately upon their investiture onto one or more islands in the Lagoon.
No longer separated by woods, farms, streams or marshes, although most on the mainland were by that time easily crossed on reasonable road networks, the small islands with no original interconnecting bridges recreated the mainland woods, fields, marsh and waterway separations between “communities” on a smaller scale.
Early dredging and bulwarking of island perimeters, familiar methods from mainland development and reclamation, stabilized and consolidated islands, increased their size and raised them a little bit further above mean and high tide lines.
None of that effort required the invention of absolutely new technological innovations, but did compel and impel improvements under new circumstances.
Their purpose would not only been to protect the “rights” of early-arriving communities, but to promote the common good. A means had to be established to peacefully determine how:
- To consolidate some communities, industries or land-uses;
- To determine which islands were best to inhabit first and who would develop them;
- To “place” later arrivals on newly reclaimed islands or by absorption into existing communities;
- To share resources including transportation, materials water and food acquisition from the mainland along with new water resource development (pozzi!) and the establishment of new farms on the most fertile of the Lagoon islands;
- To collaborate on defense and for the good of public order.
A Never-Ending Challenge
Meeting the “challenge of the lagoon” did not end with the third successful wave if migration into the lagoon.
Without a chronological (or even a repetitive-occurrence) ordering, a number of the major challenges that Venetians faced at the founding, during the “second wave” and “third wave”, in the intervening centuries, ever since, and even today, include:
- Disease and Pestilence
- Pollution and Waste Management
- River-Spawned Floods and Siltation
- Railroads and Airports Automobiles
- Cultural, Political and Religious Conflicts
- Peer Pressure, Style and Vogue
- Commerce and Industrialization
- Motorized Boats
- Cruise Ships and Tourists!
- Storm Surge and Tides
- Family and Personal Ambitions and Disputes
- Newly Emerging Challenges and Opportunities from Outside the Lagoon
- Earthquakes and Fire
- Obsolescence, Deterioration and Reconstruction
- Expansion of “Land-Locked” Institutions and Businesses
- Overcrowding and Residential Flight
As each of us looks at Venice, whether from afar, through fleeting visits or in long dalliance, we gain insights into each of these aspects of the place and how it became what it is today. Many of these challenges will be addressed in future posts in this series.
Since human nature, will and physiological functions – individually and in groups – has remained unchanged over that long history, despite “technology”, that study affords the opportunity to develop tools for discernment and comprehension of the places that we each call “home”!
Conversely, study and application to Venice of what we and others learn about our own time, culture and place provides insights – worthy of being shared – into Venice’s…
Not so strangely similar patterns.
(This is Part V of the series, “Venice – The Intentional City” on RenaissanceRules! Part One, the Introduction, was posted on November 8, 2010, and can be accessed via this link: http://wp.me/pVUDj-rS . Please stop in again to visit previous articles and discover upcoming segments. Enjoy the journey! Buon Viaggio!)