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book coverCafé Life Venice

A Guidebook to the Cafés and Bacari of La Serenissima

Page 3
Continued from page 2

Excerpt 2: Muro

This second excerpt is from the San Polo section of Café Life Venice. It's taken from a nine-page article about Muro, a stylish modern bar (its name means "Wall") that was built within the shell of an abandoned butcher shop near the Rialto food markets, and it shows why you needn't be a native to feel welcome at Muro and other Venetian bacari, wine bars, or restaurants:

Competing for local clientele (a shrinking commodity) is quite a challenge when you consider that there are 40,000 people living in Venice, and a total of 60,000 including the surrounding islands. This equates to a loss of about 110,000 inhabitants since 1946 when the Venetians numbered 170,000. (In the first half of the 1400s, the population numbered 150,000, making it the largest city in Europe.)

The average loss is about 1,000 Venetians per year, often replaced by wealthy foreigners. You have to be commited to life in La Serenissima, as writer Thomas Mann described it, "half fairy tale and half tourist trap." The city is damp, with exorbitant real estate prices and rents, shrinking services, and the yearly invasion of 12 million tourists. Due to these factors, many Venetians scappano (escape) to terra ferma (as they call the mainland).

Giacomo describes his challenge this way: "In Venice, there are 20 to 25,000 anziani (elderly) 65 to 70 years old. That's one-third of the population, then there is 20 percent bambini (children). That leaves 10-15,000 people going to bars, restaurants, and bacari, but some of them stay at home with children, or for other reasons. So between the ages of 22 and 40, we figure there are only 2 to 3,000 people who are in circulation, which is why we hope that the tourists will eventually want to come here also."

-- From Café Life Venice (text by Joe Wolff)

Back to: Café Life Venice - book review

In this book review:
Café Life Venice - book review
Excerpt 1: Bar Aperol, San Marco
Excerpt 2: Muro, San Polo

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