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.
In reality, only tourists hire gondolas; any self-respecting Venitian prefers to catch a vaporetto, or hail a speedy water taxi. As you can see from the photo in this 6/12/09 New York Times article, 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.
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.
The campaign is an uphill battle. According to the article, Italians imbibe more overpriced, overrated, and overhyped* H2O per capita than any other country on the planet. Instead of the usual guilt-tripping (or the ranting ridicule favored by Waterblogged.info), Venice wants to get people to switch by making tap water trendy: Pubbliche relazioni venezia has rebranded tired old spigot juice as sexy and youthful Acqua Veritas (real water?). The newest beverage sensation is aggressively marketed through a playful promotion that features the city's mayor, Massimo Cacciari, who looks very much like a bookish philosopher because he is one.
The core shtick of the campaign plays off the phrase l'acqua del sindaco, 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.
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.
*Italicized matter is interpolated invective from the editorial staff of Waterblogged.info