Winter means fog in Venice. The winter nebbia there, as it's called in Italian, is quite unlike anything I have experienced: dense, hood-on-the-head, rain-cloud-come-to-earth fog that seemed to sock us in at least every other morning. As we lived on La Giudecca, an island apart from the rest of Venice, we had to cross the wide Canale della Giudecca several times daily, a journey that fog complicated. Vaporettos were often late or suspended. And if you did finally get on one, you needed to place unnatural faith in the boat's captain, as visibility on the canale was at 0 (is there such thing as negative visibility?) and the waters were simultaneously criss-crossed by enormous cruise ships, dozens of small merchant vessels, water taxis, garbage scows and god knows what else. I used to stand outside the window of the captain's cabin, watching the surface radar over his shoulder, scanning for battleship-sized blips that were headed for our broadside. The captain didn't even bother to look up from the screen, there was nothing to see but the nebbia.
Word in today's Gazzettino about two different fog-related collisions within minutes of each other in the Bacino di San Marco, the hectic, wide-open area between the island of San Giorgio, the Lido and the Piazzetta. In the first, 5 people were injured and taken to the hospital after a vaporetto collided with a tourist boat, the Cristina II, packed with Tiawanese tourists. The Cristina II was left with an enormous gash that had officials marveling that it did not founder and sink, which could easily have resulted in loss of life. The second collision was near the Lido, and while mainly a sidescraping, the boats involved were whales -- motonavi -- and nearly collided head-on.
Another controversy: apparently numerous vaporettos are out there with faulty radar, according to the Mayor's office, and they put heat on the ACTV (the transit authority) to clean things up prontissimo.