June 16, 2009
Ah, Venice, the City of Water, intricately interconnected by a network of picturesque canals replete with sleek black gondolas piloted by boisterous men sporting ridiculous hats -- an idea they apparently stole from Las Vegas.
<p>In reality, only tourists hire gondolas; any self-respecting Venitian prefers to catch a <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/stonechat/2863774330/" target="_blank">vaporetto</a>, or hail a speedy <a href="http://www.venicewatertaxi.it/mezzi.asp" target="_blank">water taxi</a>. As you can see from the photo in this <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/12/world/europe/12venice.html?emc=eta1" target="_blank">6/12/09<em> New York Times </em>article</a>, some Venetians apparently walk on water as well -- and with that charming and disarming Italian insouciance, blithely drop empty plastic water bottles along their merry-assed way. Collecting the bottles bobbing around the gondolas has become so expensive that the city has launched a campaign to turn the populace on to tap water.</p><p>Lest you think that the first stage of Venice's tap water delivery involves sucking canal water with a pipe, the article states that the municipal water supply is drawn from the same aquifers being drained by Italian beverage giant San Benedetto, the bottlers of Italy's most popular plastic-encased thirst quencher.</p><p>The campaign is an uphill battle. According to the article, Italians imbibe more <em>overpriced, overrated, and overhyped</em>* H2O per capita than any other country on the planet. Instead of the usual guilt-tripping (or the <a href="http://waterblogged.info/bottled-water-rant/" target="_blank">ranting ridicule favored by Waterblogged.info</a>), Venice wants to get people to switch by making tap water trendy: <em>Pubbliche relazioni </em><em>venezia</em> has <em>rebranded </em>tired old spigot juice as sexy and youthful <em>Acqua Veritas</em> (real water?). The newest beverage sensation is aggressively marketed through a playful promotion that features the city's mayor, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massimo_Cacciari" target="_blank">Massimo Cacciari,</a> who looks very much like a bookish philosopher because he is one.</p><p>The core shtick of the campaign plays off the phrase<em> l'acqua del sindaco</em>, the mayor's water, which is how Italians ruefully refer to tap water. "I drink the mayor's water, too," proclaims the tweedy dignitary from billboards throughout the region.</p><p>I hope it's an effective effort. But, hey, we're talking Italy here, and it's more likely we'll soon be reading about a scandal involving a photo of the mayor schmoozing with a San Benedetto exec, grasping a bundle of lira in one hand and tipping a bottle of San Benedetto's best to his hair-lined lips with the other. You read it first at Waterblogged.info.</p><p><em>*Italicized matter is interpolated invective from the editorial staff of Waterblogged.info</em></p>
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