Lonely Planet Writer

Venice celebrates 100 years of its hidden industrial hub

The city’s unlovely industrial hub reaches a milestone anniversary. Often described as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Venice has a less aesthetically pleasing side.

Even Porto Marghera looks beautiful at sunset Image by Jo-Ann Titmarsh

Porto Marghera, the industrial area you see from the plane or shimmering somewhat menacingly on the horizon, may have kilometres of pipeline, chimneys belching smoke and could even be the reason for higher water temperatures in the lagoon, but it has also been a source of wealth for the city and jobs for its citizens. Venice is celebrating a hundred years of hard graft, innovation and employment and at the same time keeping an eye on a possibly greener and cleaner future for this vast complex.

Photos show the intricate pipelines of Porto Marghera Image by Jo-Ann Titmarsh

Centenary celebrations have kicked off with two small photographic exhibitions at the Centro Culturale Candiani in Mestre, one depicting the history of Porto Marghera and the other focusing on many of its currently disused and abandoned areas. Concerts, walking tours, exhibitions and educational activities are just some of the events planned from now until spring 2018. All of the events have been sponsored by Eni, the Italian gas and electric company that has been a part of Porto Marghera from its earliest days.

An exhibition at the Centro Culturale Candiani Image by Jo-Ann Titmarsh

To underline the relationship between Venice and its industrial neighbour, events will take place both in the historic centre and in Marghera and nearby Mestre. Music, art and theatrical performances will be dedicated to celebrating this 100th anniversary, with a permanent exhibition at Vega in Marghera.

Like it or loathe it, Porto Marghera is an important component of Venice and its recent history. Both the local government and a variety of cultural and environmental organisations are looking at ways to reopen abandoned and neglected spaces. There is hope that competitions for young architects and engineers will be organised that focus on Porto Marghera and that this denigrated area will have a new lease of life beyond its industrial past. To quote the organising committee, when celebrating Porto Marghera there are two key words to consider: “memory and future”.

By Jo Ann Titmarsh