See you in SeptemberBy
There are two months here — well, two and a half, if you count the 12 days of Carnival — which are the most intense (polite way of saying “difficult”). They are May and September.
As we’re on the verge of September now, I can say I already feel its ponderous impetus, in the same way a river lifts at the unseen approach of a heavily laden barge.
On September 2 the Venice Film Festival begins (runs till September 12). This world-class event overwhelms the Lido, where our boat club is, which means that going to row and getting home again is going to be hard. The Lido is 6 miles [11 km] long and something like 1/3 of a mile [500 meters] wide, which comes to about two square miles [5.5 square km]. That’s not a lot of space for thousands of visitors all at once. True, most of those thousands spend most of their days (and nights) indoors, at hotels or bars or most of all, screening rooms. But they do come out occasionally, especially to go have a look at Venice, and I leave the rest to your imagination. The vaporetto stop at the Lido is like the fall of Saigon.
Then there is the Campiello Prize, an important national literary event whose peak moments will occur on September 5 and 6. So we add all the literati to the streets and vaporettos.
Then we throw in the Regata Storica, or Historic Regatta, which is always the first Sunday of September and this year will be on September 6. This draws mostly day-trippers, or people who are already in town for some other reason. I don’t believe many non-Venetians do more than come in for the day, and many more now stay home and watch it on television. But it does majorly disrupt some of the vaporetto service, seeing as the Grand Canal is blocked for about six hours for the races. Trying to decipher the official timetable for the day is like solving one of those innocent-seeming problems in logic which eventually unhinge you, problems which posit A, B, C and if not A but only B, or if A and C but not B, and so on. It doesn’t bother me because I’ll be out in a boat most of the day and into the night, but yes, there is disruption.
Then — because the foregoing wasn’t enough — an international show-jumping event, the Venice All Stars, is planned at the stable next door to our rowing club. This will be September 16-19. Workers have been slaving away at primping up the general area, since it is usually in a state of resigned degradation. The major arteries of the Lido (both of them) will be sclerotic, I imagine, with vans and horse trailers and cars. Equine events seem to involve more wheels than hooves, when you think about it.
But all these mammals, however many legs they may have, will require fodder. So to the restaurants (and also hotels), I wish a hearty mazel tov, this is your big (only; last) chance to recoup whatever losses the skimpy tourist year has inflicted on you. And I have no doubt that recoup you will. Then we’ll spend the next three days reading articles in the paper about how expensive Venice is and how people have been carried out on stretchers after getting the bill for a pizza and a beer.
I did in fact just make that last part up. What does happen, however, is that they get the bill and then go to some office and make a formal protest. Complaint. Denunciation. Assorted Venetians read these accounts and go, “Bummer, man.” Or the Venetian equivalent, which doesn’t immediately come to mind.
And on we go.