The ramps return to Capistrano — I mean Venice


Seasonal migrations (is that redundant? Sorry) are an excellent way to keep track of the year’s divisions, especially here, where you need a keen eye to discern that there is anything more than one season anymore, which is Tourists.

But at this moment, if you’re paying attention (and if you know, and if you care) you can detect a few important signs of autumn.  I don’t mean the drying, yellowing, falling leaves — anybody can notice them, and besides, the drought began drying them before their normal time to drop.  So leaves are out.

Torbolino — the first draw-off of the new wine.  That’s an excellent indicator, though again, this year it’s somewhat early due to the unusually early harvest (see: “drought,” above).

Ducks are also useful heralds of the season — I saw my first one paddling around two weeks ago, This always makes me happy, except that I had seen my first duck hunter even earlier: The ducks began hitting the water on September 3. So much for enjoying their winter haven.

Seppioline — sepoine (seh-poh-EE-neh) in Venetian — are baby seppie, or cuttlefish.  If “baby” anything on your plate upsets you, skip this paragraph.  We are now in the period of the fraima, which is the annual passage of the fish which have spent all summer fooling around in the lagoon moving out into the Adriatic (or beyond) for the winter.  The cuttlefish spawned months ago, and their small offspring are now in the process of making their first trip out into the world where they will become big, grown-up cuttlefish.  Unless they get snagged before they reach the exit, in which case they will be sold at an outrageous price (there I go, being redundant again), grilled and eaten.  Short migration.

The ramps are used by thundering racers for a few hours, and by countless humbler folk dragging suitcases, shopping carts, or strollers laden with small heavy tired cranky children for six months. I would bet that the shleppers appreciate the ramps just as much as any Ethiopian champion. Probably more.

But the ramps are back.  I saw my first one two days ago and it was like hearing a small, clear trumpet announcing autumn, winter, and early spring.  The ramps are set up for the Venice Marathon (this year scheduled for October 23), and they stay up till the end of March. That’s practically half the year.  Then they migrate back to hibernate in whatever warehouse keeps them till next October.

They’re only installed on the race route — logically — which conveniently passes the Piazza San Marco and other heavily traveled tourist routes.  I bet the people up in Cannaregio and along the northern edge of the city really envy us.  I know they don’t envy us the tourists, but we get the ramps.

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Categories : Venetian Events

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