Translated/paraphrased from an article by Gianpaolo Bonzio in today's Gazzettino.
Every year, another Venetian bakery lowers its shutters forever. The financial pressures on bakers in the city are inexorable, and hope is in short supply. In 1985, there were 55 active bakeries in the historic center of Venice. In 20 years, the number has been sliced to 34. Only 5 remain in the sestiere of San Marco.
Despite these chilling numbers, the Venetian panificatori have no intention of letting go without a fight. And this Friday and Saturday from 11AM to 530PM, there will be a large demonstration in Campo Santo Stefano, Campo San Polo, and on via Garabaldi and Strada Nuova, in which consciousnesses will be raised and free bread and other baked goods will be given away gratis.
According to the president of the Venetian baker’s association, Paulo Stefani, “our standards have always been extremely high, yet our prospects are not encouraging. Our costs – particularly for rent -- are much steeper than in other Italian cities. Space is limited. Local labor is expensive. There is an enormous cost for maintenance and repair. Highly specialized workers have to travel to Venice in order to send the heavy machinery to workshops outside from the historical center ".
What needs to be done, according to Paolo, is to “defiscalize” the bakeries [i.e., to subsidize them]. And while the Venetian intelligentsia is considering ways of dealing with the problem, the point of next weekend’s demonstrations is to carry the message directly to the Venetian people, and above all, to the city government.