I’ve made it a mission to create a photo essay of the life of Venetian workmen hard at work in the canals and passages of Venice. I’ve yet to find women working on outdoor crews, including the one female gondolier (I’m hoping that will change and I hope I’m able to capture the evolution as it happens).

Observing everyday life and functions on the water in Venice is endlessly fascinating

How do everyday functions such as trash collection, deliveries (can’t wait to delve into how Amazon.com reaches a person’s doorstep), medical emergency services (i.e. ambulances on water), etc.? That’s where I had been focusing my questions. I hadn’t really spent much mind space on the vigili del fuoco, or firefighters, until I stood on a bridge watching a bright red boat approaching, with a group of men seriously scouring the sides of the canal and engrossed in their observations. “Great photo opp incoming,” I thought to myself.

vigili del fuoco

The vigili del fuoco are serious about their jobs © 2017 Jed Smith

While the photo I took of these fellows as they passed under the bridge on which I was standing seems quite serious, they subsequently broke into smiles and waved warmly when I gave them my thumbs up to thank them for the photo opp. It was when the boat passed and I ran to the other side of the bridge to see them emerge and make the turn into the next canal that I realized these were a group of Venetian vigili del fuoco, or firemen.

I had seen plenty of police, carabinieri, and even a water ambulance, but not the Venice firefighters. So, the bigger picture of how Venice functions for all public support service comes into greater focus. But, other than capturing these Venetian firefighters making the rounds, I have little understanding and appreciation of the particularities of doing their jobs in the complicated maze of waterways in Venice. I’ll have to start working my connections in Venice to see if I can land an introduction and interview with one of the vigili del fuoco to go deeper into this story.

As always, stay tuned!

vigili del fuoco

A Venetian “fire truck” © 2017 Jed Smith