I’m just back from a family trip to the remarkable Italian city of Venice. Former city state and global power, the web of islands and canals is now a powerful magnet for tourism.

It’s nearly fifteen years since I last visited. In many ways the city remains unchanged. The water taxis are still eye-wateringly expensive. It’s next to impossible to buy any food other than Italian (not necessarily a bad thing). The place is still horrendously prone to flooding. But the hawkers on the major bridges show how certain things have changed significantly: the only things on sale on the Rialto and Accademia bridges are selfie-sticks.

Last time I visited I was still using a film camera. Now the only things being sold to tourists by street traders are a piece of plastic and metal to enable people to take pictures of themselves with their mobile phones. I can think of no better analogy for how some things change and some things stay the same.

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