At the edge of the public gardens, along the Riva dei Partigiani, facing the lagoon, stand busts of the German composer Richard Wagner (ri-KARD VAHG-ner), and Italian composer Giuseppi Verdi. Both were composers of opera, though of very different sorts, and both had a connection to Venice. Wagner died in Venice at what is now the Casino.
An interesting story is that Wagner, as a foreigner, went to the Café Lavana, and Verdi, as an Italian, went to Florian, but neither would consider going to the other café.
As I now live on Sant’Elena, I often walk past these busts. They are very well done and I like to look at them, and I’m a fan of their music. A couple of months ago I noticed that the noses on both busts had been broken off. I was horrified.
First, I noticed Wagner. Why would anyone do that? Well, Wagner’s views on race were pretty much along the lines of the Nazis. He hated Jews, and wrote essays to that effect. He was Hitler’s favorite composer. I’ve heard that his music is still not played in Israel. I don’t know that to be a fact, but it makes sense. So, I thought that someone making a political statement might have done it. The youth of Italy often do so by vandalizing other people’s property, usually with graffiti.
Then I noticed Verdi, whose bust stands about fifteen feet away. His nose was broken, too. At that point I knew it was an act of pure vandalism. But who would want to hurt Verdi?
I went to the busts and looked around. Maybe there were bits of the noses. They are surrounded by thick bushes, and I didn’t find any. A bit further into the park, I noticed that one of the statues there had likewise been hit with a hammer. Bits of it were on the ground.
Who would do such a thing? Of course, I can only speculate. But I can’t imagine anyone other than a teenager doing it. The bushes surrounding these statues are large enough where the enterprising youth and several of his friends could fit under them and be out of sight of the rest of the world. There they could drink and smoke weed. Then what? One just happened to have a hammer and, being hammered himself, thinks it a good idea to bust up statues? Has he nothing better to do?
Attention drug and/or alcohol impaired minors: By all means, destroy your mind and health with drugs and booze in preparation for your careers in menial and low-paying jobs. Do poorly in school, it’s a professional requirement. But kindly redirect your creative energies away from destroying national treasures to other, less reprehensible things. Shoplifting or purse snatching, for example.