49,999 residents. The blitz sounding the alarm about Venice

Flyers that look like the civic numbers appear in the middle of the night in Cannaregio. Calculations forecast less than 50,000 residents by the end of July

By Eugenio Pendolini

25 May 2022

VENEZIA. Like one of the civic numbers, but which in this case is meant to indicate a death sentence for Venice that is by now inexorable. The flyers appeared yesterday at the first light of dawn, in the most frequented areas of Cannaregio: the ponte delle Guglie, fondamenta degli Ormesini, campo San Geremia, and ponte dell’Anconeta.

The flyers bear only five numbers: 49,999. No slogan, no message of explanation. However, it does not require too much imagination to understand their meaning: the collapse in the number of residents. The fateful threshold of 50,000 residents is now one step away from being crossed.

This is true, but who is the author of these flyers?

Indications would seem to point at Venessia.com, which for years has been committed to observing events in the city, with public initiatives marked with irony and sarcasm. However, the association delivered a dry denial: “We have nothing to do with it”. Stop.

That leaves only the numbers to discuss. According to Municipal data updated on 20 May, there are 50,123 residents in the città d’acqua. There were 50,456 at the end of 2021, just five months ago. Seventy years ago, at the end of 1951, there were 174,808.

At the beginning of the year Gianpiero Dalla Zuanna, a full professor of demographics, did not hesitate to use a disquieting parallel to describe what is happening in Venice: “What is happening is something similar to what happened in villages in the Dolomites, when a community’s size goes below a certain threshold the critical mass necessary to maintain services is lost, and a vicious circle ensues: stores close, then the schools and the sporting groups” is what he said.

But how close is that fateful threshold? Venessia.com, in its weekly update on its Facebook page, recently made some calculations. “Based on the average trend this year (140 days), 50,000 residents will hypothetically be reached on 17 July. Based on the average trend of the last three months (89 days), it would hypothetically be reached on 29 July, while based on the average the last 30 days the threshold will be crossed 4 August”.

Two to three months, then. And what happens next? Repopulating a city is not an operation that gets resolved from today to tomorrow, and the goal of increasing the number of students and transform them into future residents will require years – assuming it is possible. The alternative to all this, after all, was already staged in 2009, in the form of a funeral procession along the Canal Grande. It was the “funeral of Venice”, organized by Venessia.com: either a provocation or a prophecy.

Source: La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre

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