Venice, 29 January 1996, 20:58. A phonecall reaches the operating
room of Venice Fire Dept: “we see some smoke coming through the
Fenice”. It started like that a long night that will hardly be forgotten by
Of that night, images of men with a heavy uniform, running through the
calli, climbing up the roofs. Their silhouettes were standing out on the
sea of fire coming out from the theatre walls. Today those shapes have a
face. Men that fate brought to face each other in the disaster of the
century. Therefore, not a documentary on the history of the Fenice, but a
documentary on the story of the lives which that night lived some
crucial moments: fear, defeat, difficulty, sympathy, risk. The story goes
on through their narration, still actual, intense and exciting, and the
catalogue of images takes life, mute images no longer. In the morning,
all of what was left of the theatre was the main façade and the external
walls. For the first time, thanks to the visual contribution of the Venice
Fire Dept Documentation Centre, we can see the inside of the theatre
On the background, the city of Venice, which was stunned by the event
and unable to react.
The mark of that night is still visible today. Every time a fire spreads,
the memory goes immediately back to those moments. The risk of fire is
still high. Last year a part of the Mulino Stucky at the Giudeccca was
destroyed. Venice risks to be scarred in its immortal beauty. The firemen
explain why it is difficult to put out fires in Venice. From their words, a
request: some thoughtfulness, because not always luck can be hoped for.
Today something has been done, but is it enough to preserve the city?