27 settembre 2023
by Rita Lofano

The Sea Inside


It’s the time of the International Film Festival, full of great excitement, lots of movement and much glamor. For the city of Venice, however, the credits never roll.

Mayor Luigi Brugnaro, how would you describe the essence of this city? "The slogan "Venice the oldest city of the future" was created two years ago to celebrate the 1,600th anniversary of its foundation, conventionally set as March 25, 421. If we just stopped there, however, we would not be doing justice to the spirit of the people of Venice, who not only successfully colonized the world all the way to the Far East, but have also proved to be, in every age, highly innovative: just think of the Arsenal and our ancestors’ ability to build a fleet of agile vessels capable of defeating the terrible enemy armies, guaranteeing unchallenged domination of the seas for almost a thousand years. Venice has always known how to transform adverse situations into an element of rebirth. The MOSE barrier is proof that Italian ingenuity can be a foundational element in safeguarding the city. Today, the project has finally proven to be the effective response against the effects of climate change and rising sea levels, which affect indiscriminately the whole world but have devastating effects on Venice."

You presented the Golden Lion in Murano glass to Giorgio Armani, a global icon of Italian design, that everyone attempts to imitate.

"I personally wanted to present this award in recognition of Giorgio Armani the man, and of his great passion for beauty, which he transformed into a successful enterprise rooted in Italian territory, in the crafts and works of artisans and workers of weaving, tailoring, and costume, which he reinterpreted and grew to become a universal reference. A golden lion in Murano glass, forged in our furnaces, is yet another Venetian and, therefore, Italian excellence. The ability is to maintain the original matrix, preserving it on a global scale."

The historic regatta is a traditional Venice event that attracts many tourists and boating enthusiasts. What does it represent for you and the city?

"The Regata Storica is the highlight of the annual calendar of Venetian rowing competitions, a sport practiced for thousands of years in the Venice lagoon. It is a ritual that is repeated every year, reinforcing the age-old relationship between the city and water. One of the best-loved events in the Venetian community; a veritable "rowing festival" that takes place along the Grand Canal, the waterway overlooked by a sequence of spectacular grand buildings, featuring a parade of dozens of decorated boats, the traditional bissone, including the newly restored Floreale, the Serenissima, and the Dogaressa, with gondoliers and people in costume. More than 60 flagships will plow through the waters of Venice's main water course in the sporting procession of the city's rowing associations, dressed in their social uniforms. From a sports point of view, there are competitions in different categories, from the very youngest to the champion rowers of the gondolino, considered the Formula 1 of rowing."

For ten years now, there is also the very popular Venice Hospitality Challenge, the only regatta to be held entirely in the inland waters of a city. And perhaps this was the inspiration for the Venice Boat Show. What is the added value that these events bring to the city?

"Thanks to events like the Venice Hospitality Challenge and the Boat Show, Venice has once again become the home of the people of the sea, which includes not only boat owners, but also many workers, researchers and enthusiasts who care about it. This year’s theme was sustainability, with spaces dedicated to green navigation, which opens up new scenarios for the application of technological research on an industrial scale, and with €154 million in investments by the AVM/ACTV group towards the development of an increasingly green waterbus fleet. From 2027, only hybrid steamers will be seen on the Grand Canal.

The next edition will be from May 29 to June 2, 2024: this year’s boat show was wonderful, but the next one will be even better, with the goal of making it a central event for Venice but also for the entire Eastern Mediterranean."

Is the High-end Italian Craftsmanship Fair a new event, among the many taking place in Venice?

"With this new fair, Venice seeks to celebrate precisely the excellence and craftsmanship of so many Italians whose creations give prestige to Italy and Italian design around the world. Better-known brands and other niche names, businesses with a history spanning several generations and other recent start-ups, companies and workshops that promote the Italian brand open their doors to visitors, revealing traditions, secrets, workmanship and professions often handed down from father to son."

Meno debiti per i nostri figli e volano per lo sviluppo. Se l’abbiamo fatto a Venezia si può fare anche nel resto d’Italia

As an Administrator, you are considered a man who gets things done and keeps tidy accounts. Statistics say that the metropolitan city has zero debt and that the municipal authority pays its bills 18 days before they are due. What is the secret?

"The budget is a litmus test of good administration. These numbers translate the work done into a universal unit of measurement. I applied my experience as entrepreneur, as someone who is used to getting it down to the single euro, to making processes efficient, to valuing employees, to hiring young people based on merit alone. This, of course, without foregoing investments. The municipal authority inherited €800 million of consolidated debt; now we are down to 700, but at the same time, we have €1 billion in public works. In other words: less debt for our children and a driver for development. If we did it in Venice, it can also be done in the rest of Italy."

What will Luigi Brugnaro do when he grows up?

"Being a mayor is the most difficult and tiring job in the world. I explained this in the book I wrote with Stefano Lorenzetto, which I called Ci giudicheranno i bambini (Our Children Will Judge Us), published by Marsilio, because it is to them that we have to look when making our choices for the future. It is not a book of ideas, but of things done. And I want to explain to them with examples that Italy is still a country full of possibilities. I believe it!"

Seguici su