Archive for Events
Sharp-eyed reader Janys Hyde, who has lived in Venice twice as long as I have, read my report on Ricky and his mania for dropping things off the Accademia Bridge. She sent me a copy of the story as it was recounted in an article in 2011, which ran in the Nuova Venezia. I wanted to add these particulars to the sketch (it was all I knew at the time) I wrote a few days ago.
Here it is, translated by me:
May 31, 1973
Two finance officers and the folly in the Grand Canal
It’s May 31 of 1973, toward 2:50 AM, when the boat that was in service, with the Commandant of the Operative Naval Section of the Guardia di Finanza, Lieutenant Carmine Scarano, and two finanzieri, Alberto Calascione and Vincenzo Di Stefano, is traveling along the Grand Canal on their way to an intervention, passing under the Accademia Bridge.
A few individuals launch from the bridge a slab of travertine which strikes the boat and the two finanzieri dead center. They were moments of terror; the only one to remain unhurt is the Commandant who immediately realizes that the boat, without anyone steering, is heading for the embankment.
With a rapid movement he gains control of the boat and stops it, perceiving at this point the lifeless body of finanziere Calascione and hearing the cries and groans from finanziere Di Stefano who is wounded on the arm.
The Commandant manages to give the alarm and call for help, but unfortunately there is nothing that could be done for Alberto Calascione who, because of the grave injuries to his head, dies shortly after his arrival at the hospital.
Finanziere Di Stefano is kept in the hospital, his physical condition improves, but the memory of what has happened will never fade.
Alberto Calascione and Vincenzo Di Stefano were recognized as Victims of Duty (“wounded in the line of duty”) and of organized crime.
In various editions of Memory Day that have followed (I am still on the track of this commemoration; the paper uses the English phrase which is hard to back-translate into holidays I recognize), Vincenzo Di Stefano has never missed the occasion to commemorate, at the place of the attack, his colleague Alberto.
All the best to everyone everywhere, especially anyone reading my blog. I hope 2013 is a sterling year for you. I mean, why not?
This might shock you, but there was a huge festa here on June 8 that was not attached to any saint, living or dead, as far as I could tell.
I intended to report on this sooner, but what with tornados and all, it’s taken me this long to return to happy thoughts.
It was the Festa della Marina Militare, or Festival of the Navy, and it also happened to be the 50th anniversary of the founding — or re-founding — of the Francesco Morosini Naval School where Lino teaches Venetian rowing. One of the highlights of this event was the swearing-fealty-to-the-flag by the first-year class, which makes them officially members of the Navy with the low but respectable rank of second-class seamen. No joke, they get the same pay as their swabby confreres who aren’t studying chemistry and bird skeletons.
So a vast parade was organized in the Piazza San Marco involving not only the three classes of the school, but virtually every other branch of the armed forces and a regiment of alumni, many of whom showed up in their work clothes, by which I mean uniforms of admirals, generals of the Carabinieri, Guardia di Finanza, Mountain Artillery, Army, Air Force, etc., as well as the dark suits of Senators and Ministers. The Secretary of Defense was here, the Secretary of the Navy was here, and even the President of the Republic was here. It was all far beyond cool. The only person who could have made it any cooler would have been Jean Dujardin. Maybe they sent the invitation to Joan of Arc by mistake.
The weather cooperated (no scorching sun and only a few drops of rain), no cadets dropped to the pavement, and the speeches were only moderately silly and only moderately too long. As usual, the Navy Band played the national anthem about 15 times, not always completely (it seems to act as a sort of aural page-turning cue, like the beep that used to tell your teacher it was time to change the slide). Hearing the national anthem so many times noticeably diminishes its emotional impact. If you’d like to know my opinion. Or even if you wouldn’t.
It was a great event and I’m glad I was there. I doubt I’ll be able to make it interesting to my grandchildren, but I’ll enjoy looking back on it.
Once again, May has come to an end (you needed me to tell you that) and we closed the 31st in the usual way, by joining the annual procession which accompanies the statue of the Madonna and Jesus from the church of San Pietro di Castello to her home base in the church of San Francesco di Paola. Even though, technically speaking, the feast of Maria Ausiliatrice is May 24, here it’s on May 31.
One small improvement in the modest lineup of boats that usually forms her escort was that Lino suggested we row a caorlina, which is noticeably bigger than the modest little mascareta we usually use. In this way, we could set up folding chairs in the boat and carry people who might have wanted to participate by floating rather than by walking.
Weather good. Crowd large and earnest. Not as many people watching from the windows as there have been in some years, but perhaps there were more on the ground.
The loudspeaker wasn’t too capricious (a plus), but for some reason the priest chose a couple of everyday hymns as part of the event, completely ignoring the hymn associated specifically with this festival (a very large minus). This is one tradition which has absolutely no need of being re-fangled.
I’m going to have to complain to the management. Just as soon as she’s back on her pedestal.