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Venice has been compared to many things, or has suggested or inspired many things, but I have only now discovered that she also makes an excellent base for board games. Two have been created by Italians (I don’t know their provenance) and one American, but they all live, or lived, on the Giudecca.
A new board game called “Venetia,” created by Marco Maggi and Francesco Nepitello, is based on Venetian history. (Disclaimer: I have received absolutely no remuneration or even offers of dinner for the following notices — I just think they’re worth knowing about.)
It appears that the ability to speak Italian (or German?) is going to be important, so this post may have value only in letting you know that such a thing has been invented. Or, it may be a great way to practice your Italian.
It is subtitled “The Rise and Fall of the Serenissima,” and the idea, as outlined on their site, is to “compete with your friends to become the most influential family in the history of the Republic of Venice…The hegemony of Venice is threatened by many enemies. The Republic faces the rise of other powers, from the rival Republic of Genoa to the Kingdom of Aragon to the west, to the Byzantine Empire and Ottoman Turks to the east. Century after century, take part in the struggle that formed the long history of the Republic of Venice. ‘Venetia’ contains historic notes on the Serenissima, her politics and wars, complete with biographies of some of the most important personages in the history of Venice.”
Stand back, though — this isn’t going to be just any little fandango. You get the board and the rule book, of course, but you also get a booklet of historical notes, 7 dice, about 200 wooden pieces (function not specified), almost 200 segnalini (no clue, but they must be important), and “more than” 80 cards. It’s for 2-4 players. The notes say it lasts 90 minutes. That sounds optimistic when you’re dealing with 13 centuries of derring-do, but fire when ready, Gridley, as Doge Leonardo Loredan didn’t say.
Then there is “Inkognito,”a veteran in the game world, created in 1988 by Leo Colovini and the late Alex Randolph, and now out in its third edition. It’s a spy game played on a board displaying the map of Venice. Such non-Venetian characters as Lord Fiddlebottom and Col. Bubble roam the streets of the Queen of the Seas, spying. A more detailed explanation (in English) is given on the site I’ve linked to.
Now somebody could get to work on a board game in which you earn points by finding the one vaporetto with an available seat, getting to Venice on the tram with no more than one breakdown, crossing the Piazza San Marco at noon on a Sunday in July without touching anyone; you lose points by carrying more than one piece of luggage, buying an illegal handbag or a bag of corn to feed the pigeons, or leaving your empty beer can or ice-cream cup on a windowsill.
Actually, that doesn’t sound so much like a game. Forget I mentioned it.
I know it seems like I just got back, so to speak, but Christmas is bearing down on us and we are fleeing to the mountains where we will alternately celebrate and combat it with cheese, apple strudel, needlepoint, TV, hiking, and sleep.
Happy holidays to everyone who reads my scribbles. You have made this a wonderful year for me.
It’s been three years since my excellent adventure on (and near) Mt. Kilimanjaro, and “Dreamers and Doers,” the book which was produced by the women on my trip and many other women, is now out in e-format. The photography by my partner in crime, photographer Karen Kasmauski, is worth it all by itself.
Some of the stories are wonderful, even unforgettable (a word I rarely use). I’m thinking of the blind Australian woman who climbed the mountain as part of a fund-raising benefit for the organization that provided her seeing-eye dog. What it took for her (and her guide, who literally talked her through every single step) to accomplish this is something that doesn’t seem possible. But they did it.
Have a look at these sites and consider buying it — proceeds go to a project to provide schoolbooks to Tanzanian children.
Yes, I have returned to my mooring here and have been grappling with the holiday trappings — more mental than physical. Translation: I just haven’t felt like doing or writing or thinking anything, really.
But the ghosts of Calvinists Past have reared up and made harrowing threats if I continue to indulge this revolting lethargy. And I always respond to harrowing threats, in case you ever need to know. Hideous predictions about the afterlife usually do the trick.
In any case, Christmas in our lobe of Venice this year is so low-key that it’s hardly noticeable. The atmosphere in the city as a whole is so far from festive that I’m not going to go into it at all. But I don’t need lights and spangles to know that it’s just about show time.
We will do the traditional Christmas food and possibly the traditional staying-up-late, though that’s becoming more optional as the years go by. Then we will go to the mountains for the New Year phase.
And then we’ll all be back here together, not making it up.