- ONCE did she hold the gorgeous East in fee;And was the safeguard of the West: the worthOf Venice did not fall below her birth,Venice, the eldest Child of Liberty.She was a maiden City, bright and free;No guile seduced, no force could violate;And, when she took unto herself a mate,She must espouse the everlasting Sea.And what if she had seen those glories fade,Those titles vanish, and that strength decay;Yet shall some tribute of regret be paidWhen her long life hath reach'd its final day:Men are we, and must grieve when even the ShadeOf that which once was great is pass'd away.- Wordsworth, On the Extinction of the Venetian Republic.
Venetian Terraferma (Padua, Verona, et al)
For a more general overview of the history and culture of Italy, see Culture Of Italy Most tourists visiting Venice might be baffled as to why immediately across the lagoon there are massive chimneys belching black chemicals into the air. Travelers to the supposedly "romantic" nearby cities of Verona or Padua might be equally baffled to find the cities located in the middle of an industrial wasteland. The explanation as to why follows. Most cities in northeastern Italy had spontaneously given themselves over to Venice’s protection during one of Milan’s periodic late-medieval conquering sprees. Their ruling classes were welcomed into Venice’s ruling nobility (eventually swelling the “great council,” whose membership was hereditary, to outrageous size). Thus, the holders of capital who in other Italian states would invest in their home city instead invested them in Venice. Despite this, the people of the lands Venice ruled never rebelled note , mainly because all the nobles were invested in business on the mainland in some way or other, and had an interest to keep the economy stable and the people happy. These same disadvantages were turned into advantages in the 1970’s. After Italy’s postwar economic boom had petered out and the “Years of Lead” had set in (“Anni di Piombo”) northeastern workshops began supplying well-made niche goods at cutthroat prices. In grey towns where the only thing of beauty might be the villa of an absentee landlord, the northeasterners had nothing to do but work. And work they did, slowly becoming the most powerful force in Italian industry. note Now, every square mile of land east of Milan is packed with small family run firms. Oftentimes the CEO is the father, the CFO is the mother, the product designer is the daughter and the chief salesman is the son. note Sadly, Venice itself, once the chief city of the region, is now reduced to a sort of historical Disneyland. From a population high of 250,000 in the 1950’s note today the city only counts some 20,000 inhabitants (the official population is much higher, as suburban towns keep getting annexed to the city’s jurisdiction so tax revenue can stay stable) The stereotype in the Italian consciousness for northeasterners is that they are uneducated workaholics who bring along their wielding tools when they go on vacation one week a year (usually to the Caribbean or Maldives, but always in the wrong season). Typically, a northeastern entrepreneur as represented in the media will continuously vote for the Northern League, (“Lega Nord”) denouncing southerners and immigrants as lazy good-for-nothings, oblivious to the fact that he exclusively employs immigrants and southerners in his factory. Ironically, recent judicial developments have shown that the Northern League is in the pocket of the Calabrese Mafia. However, they still retain a chokehold on the electorate in almost all of Northern Italy.