A mere week ago the excitement of Carnevale intrigued much of the world. Those celebrating intended to wear decorative masks for reasons of mysterious intrigue and costumery in the city known for its mystical allure. Unfortunately, thanks to the Coronavirus, most left Venice wearing masks for very different reasons. The irony is that the Venetian mask was created to protect people, especially those within the medical practice, from contracting the diseases which they treated. This was usually a plague, but some would argue the Coronavirus fits that description.
Many boutiques, trattorias, and cafes have spent the year gearing up for the profits from Carnevale. Venice is not always easy for its shop owners. Tourism comes in fits and starts, as does flooding. It might get a lot of foot traffic, but the cost of staying in business is quite high. Sigh…
I believe it is safe to say that no other city has the appeal of Venice, Italy. Its history, mystery, and unique beauty greet its visitors at first sight. From the time I was a young teenage girl, studying art and dreaming of gondola rides through sleek canals between architectural wonders, I longed to experience it first hand. When I was fortunate enough to do so, I drank in details like wine, letting them deepen as they aged into what became the inspiration for my novel, Behind The Mask.
Every time a crisis hits Venice, I cringe. Losing her would be horrific, yet maintaining the balance of enough tourists to support her, while keeping the hoards to a manageable level in order to prevent undue damage, is becoming a challenge. When I read Hannah Roberts’ article in The Guardian on the Coronavirus outbreak and the toll to the Venetians, my stomach sank like one of her islands beneath the rising Adriatic. Referenced as the last-nail-in-the-coffin by some vendors in Venice, this virus is making it difficult for more than its hosts to survive.
As our stock market nosedives here in America, we feel their pain. But there’s something even sadder about the thought of losing the culture of Venice, Italy. It is like a living, breathing, time capsule we should not take for granted.
Although I must keep faith that Venice will survive high water, low tourism, and Coronavirus, I also realize many people have not been able to defeat its menacing grip on their respiratory systems. Hopefully, we will get a handle on this before it takes more lives and livelihoods. Stay well, dear readers, and contact the CDC if you have questions or concerns about Coronavirus. Here’s to meeting up in Venice, Italy, mask-free, when this scourge is defeated.
Renee Johnson, in the above picture to the right with long curls, is the author of Behind The Mask, Herald Angels, Acquisition, and The Haunting of William Gray. She is currently working on a romantic-comedy, and a historical novel, while editing a suspense novel which has international flair–an homage to her love of travel and foreign food. She lives on a farm in North Carolina with her husband, Tony Johnson, and two very spoiled German shepherds named Hansel and Gretel.