Unlike any other place on the planet, it is the unique connection between Venice and the sea that both defines the city and threatens it. There are no walls to protect this floating city, only the lagoon. At the height of the city’s prosperity, its people had an unmatched mastery of the waters. Now, the acqua alta seems like some dark reminder of what Venice owes to the Adriatic, the sea rescinding its power. Venetian’s accept this debt in exchange for living among truly extraordinary beauty– a landscape that poets and painters have long endeavored to express.
When the once-in-a-century flooding saw waters rise to over 185 cm in 2019, the damage done to the city’s cultural treasures was devastating. But hope, in this case, does float. In a year determined to keep humanity down, Venice’s high waters have been kept at bay with the first successful operation of the MOSE barriers last month.
With cautious optimism, organizations like Venetian Heritage can breathe a sigh of relief and set their ambitions even higher. “No action we take is futile, but the water has tried to break our spirits many times,” says Toto Bergamo-Rossi, Venetian Heritage’s Executive Director. “How could we possibly save the masterpieces in all 139 of Venice’s churches if the water claims them faster than we can? Now I say, let’s save them all.”
Fortuny operates in solidarity with organizations like Venetian Heritage. As paramount as it is to save and preserve Venice’s past, Fortuny is equally invested in Venice’s living legacy — the contemporary artists and trade skills that make up the city’s rich cultural heritage and keep it relevant.
The waters of the Adriatic have inspired both greatness and fear, stirred the souls of prominent poets, painters, and musicians, and influenced the finest artisans the world over. With the success of the MOSE project, Venice’s relationship with the sea can shift back to one of harmony, further fueling the spirit of Venetian artistry.