Salvatore Settis has written of the danger of Venice becoming a ‘servile monoculture’ of tourism. ‘Servile’ is an insult no Venetian would easily accept. So when I see irascible or emotional signs put up by Venetians, I take them as a proof of life. They demonstrate that Venetians have not given up on their city, care about one another and will vigorously defend her against the ‘maleducati’ – the vulgar masses, who dump their rubbish on Venetian doorsteps or use her quiet corners as urinals and worse. Years ago, I translated a set of Venetian proverbs that had never before been rendered in English. One that applies here seems to be: Dio ha mandà l’om per castigar l’om. God created man to shame man. And Venetians create signs to shame those who shame their city with unsanitary and inconsiderate behaviour. They also create signs about things close to their hearts.
Those of delicate dispositions are advised to leave off reading here, as I’m afraid there is scatology to come. Honest, angry scatology, that there’s no prettying up.
Sete ciape tre cui e mezo.
Seven buttocks, three arseholes and a half: Venetian description of a typical land-dweller.
This one at right, with its porcupinery of exclamation marks, recently appeared in my own little campo. It says, ‘From the telecameras I have seen who you are!!! Don’t come to this door or this corner to defecate or urinate!! Videos of you are in police hands!!! Every urination and defecation will be recorded!!!!!
Which recalls this old Venetian proverb …
L'ànema a Dio, el corpo a la tera,
e 'l bus del cul al diavolo per tabachiera
The soul goes to God, the body to the Earth
and the arsehole to the devil, for his snuffbox.
Or this one:
El tempo, el culo e i siori
i fa quel i vol lori
Time, arses, and lords
do whatever they want
In a ‘lively’ way, the one below invites ‘I Signori Passanti’ – the Gentle Misters Passers-By – not to leave their rubbish here. In fact, it also asks other residents to desist from the practice. This place, it concludes, is not a rubbish bin (with a drawing of the same).
El mondo no te dise vaca,
co no ghe xe qualche taca
The world doesn't point a finger at you,
if you haven't done something wrong.
At right, ‘Mr Citizen out on a walk’ is asked not to let his dog perform its ‘little needs’ in the entrance of the restaurant. Thanks to Rosato Frassanito for this sign.
The one below is sadder. A lost dog is always sad. When he is 15 years old, and obviously very much loved, it is even sadder. His owner thanks ‘from his heart’ and offers a reward of 200 euros to anyone who can help him find Zizzul, a medium-sized German shepherd type.
This sweet-faced dog was last seen on March 3 near the Stazione Marittima. I so hope he’s found.
In honour of Zizzul:
Loda el mar e tiente a la tera,
loda el monte e tiente al pian,
loda el gato, e tiente al can.
Praise the sea but stay on the land,
Praise the mountains but stay in the valley,
Praise the cat but stroke the dog.
As the proverb goes,
La lingua no ga osso ma la rompe i ossi.
The tongue doesn't have bones, but it breaks bones.
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