Venice is a World Heritage Site and known as the “City of Water”. Narrow canals wind through in a complex pattern, and the sidewalks are arranged like a maze. It’s a charming city where you can stroll around in peace and quiet, crossing the countless bridges that span the canals without a single car in sight. It’s an island surrounded by and intimately connected with water. At the same time, though, they have problems with land subsidence and rising water levels—both of which could result in the tragic fate of Venice going underwater.
In response, Venice launched a massive project called MOSE, which calls for constructing levee-like barriers to protect the city from flooding and high tides that have frequently befallen it in recent years due to scirocco, or strong south winds. But the recent flooding in Venice was so severe that it again aroused criticism over the absurd delays in the completion of the MOSE project. Fierce debates over the situation are raging morning until night on the TV. They’re driven by the numerous reasons for the delays in completion of the MOSE project, among them the complexity of the construction involved, financial problems, and even corruption.
Meanwhile, unusual levels of rain have continued day after day in Milan as well. The Seveso River, located in the northern part of the city, started overflowing and causing problems with the nonstop rain. Meanwhile, the modernization of the Milan suburbs has reduced the amount of soil available to absorb the water, which I’ve heard is making the flood damage from the river worse every year.
So how do we fix it?
The fact that the cities around the river are quarreling with one another has made it difficult to start construction and work towards a solution; meanwhile, the company that was supposed to handle the project went bankrupt and no improvements have been made. And here it is raining again today. Basically, we’re looking at an endless situation where the safety of the citizens can’t be guaranteed. And there are just more protests and more futility every year.
It’s not like they built it just to protest the flood damage, but there’s an iconic statue in central Milan that reflects the dismal mood. About 800 meters from the Duomo is Italy’s largest stock exchange plaza. It’s surrounded by fascist-era buildings, and in it sits a bold, weighty statue in silent protest.
The marble statue is titled L.O.V.E., and was created by the Italian artist Cattelan, who is known for his provocative works. L.O.V.E. stands for Libertà, Odio, Vendetta, Eternità (Freedom, Hate, Vengeance, Eternity), but nobody calls it that—they all call it “the finger” (as in “giving the middle finger”).
When it was first constructed in 2010, the politicians and local leaders obviously raised objections and it was said to be removed, but it remains to this day.
People are always standing in front of the middle finger statue taking pictures of it, and of course they were there again today in the rain!
The citizens are so fed up with the ridiculously slow pace of the MOSE project due to corruption and other problems that they may just set up an artistic embankment in the shape of a middle finger instead.