irrigation lines

A Monumental Fix
While in Venice, Italy, last summer, I came across a most unusual fountain in the Biennale Gardens near the city's historic Arsenale: It's a tall, slightly overgrown tribute to Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian general, politician and nationalist who is counted among the founding fathers of the modern Italy. I almost put the word fountain in quotation marks in the first sentence above, because the structure's water flows in an unusual way: While I'm reasonably certain the imposing tower of volcanic stone, granite boulders and bronze statuary once had internal plumbing and flowed with the greater elegance befitting such a tribute, it now flows through bands of black tubing interrupted in places by dribbling spouts. The odd effect is that the monument seems to be watered by an ordinary drip-irrigation system that keeps its plants green and aerates the turtle-filled basin at its base. I know that resources for restoration of even relatively intact artworks are scarce in Italy in general and especially in Venice, where life is a constant struggle to keep everything operational in the face of a combination of rising seawater and subsiding ground. But it's sad and a bit dispiriting that funds apparently aren't available for more than a stop-gap fix for a monument of this prominence and grandeur. But no matter: The fix works, and I still enjoyed seeing the monument, which was completed between 1885 and 1887 by Augusto Benvenuti, a local artist and sculptor. My guess is that it stands nearly 30 feet tall, with Garibaldi, flamboyantly attired, standing at its peak. Beneath him is a lion - the most accessible and impressive figure in the composition - as befits its being in Venice, where these beasts are iconic fixtures almost everywhere. Behind and below Garibaldi is a soldier attired in a uniform of the sort worn by Garibaldi's troops. I haven't been able to determine if there are any plans to repair the fountain and restore it to a more elegant form, but I'll hold onto that hope. In the meantime, the monument is worth a visit - if only to marvel at the beautiful turtles!