Archive for Venetian Events

Jan
29

The Carnival-scapades

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Yesterday was the second day of Carnival 2018 (Jan. 27-Feb. 13), and the festivities started, as they have for a number of years now, with a monster boat procession in the Grand Canal.  The boats and rowers were decorated and trimmed and upholstered and whatever else seemed good across the gamut from minimal (a hat) to the glamorous (let’s all be Mozart for a day!) to the fabulously imaginative, funny, and irreverent.  They say that during “Carnevale, ogni scherzo vale” (during Carnival every joke works) and the boat people showed they’ve got plenty of high jinks still in them.

Note: For an overview of Carnival garb, behavior and general atmosphere back in the glory days, I recommend my very own piece on masks for Craftsmanship magazine.

Further note: I promised Lino that I would convey his belief that this festival, amusing and picturesque as it may be, is NOT the real Venetian Carnival.  He is extremely firm on that point.  Other cities, most particularly Viareggio, are famous for celebrating Carnival with highly elaborate floats (“carri allegorici“).  The floats of Viareggio are titanic constructions that can hold their own against any other carnival in the galaxy.  But Lino contends that this sort of parade is not the Venetian Carnival and he strongly objects to the introduction of this foreign body into the Venetian culture.  I am not going to adjudicate the matter in any way, I have only fulfilled my promise to add his voice into the festive confusion.  Confusion there has always been during Carnival, even here, and history attests this.  But no carri allegorici.

That said, I’d like to return to the floating (sorry) festivities.  I’m a stout defender of Venetian traditions, but I have to admit that I found the whole thing hugely entertaining.  That’s all I’m going to say.

The gathering of the boats at the entrance to the Grand Canal. We arrived around 10:45, and we began processing at 11:15. The weather didn’t get the message that it would be hilarious to rain or snow, so we made do with ordinary old sunshine. A good thing, too, because the day after was solid fog.

The boat in the foreground bears proudly on its bow the typical sign listing the stops that is displayed on the #1 vaporetto. Cute, but why?

Here’s why: The sign says “For today only, the ACTV will provide service by oar.”  The crew is wearing the regulation necktie that is part of the ACTV uniform.

The battling Casanovas, comparing gondolas and, probably frills.  Remember the gondola on the left, it will reappear further on.

I’m sure I’m missing something (I’m never wrong if I think that), but here we have a whaling longboat helpfully named “La Baleniere” (“the whale boat,” though the term usually means the entire ship).  Instead of being rowed backwards, it’s been fitted out to be rowed the Venetian way, standing up, facing forward.  Hazmat suits are always appropriate, so I won’t inquire about those, but the headgear looks like jellyfish brains or something else from the abyss.  I’m not even sure what they were made of.  Men wearing pink, though, is always entertaining.

The boats lined up to check in at the control station at the Customs House Point. The organizers threw bottles of water (never drunk) and packs of sandwiches (never eaten, at least not by me) into the boat. They took no chances that somebody might suddenly feel faint.

The star of everything was this enormous plastic mode of a rat, here being carried on a yellow boat to the end of the line where, at the crucial festive moment, he will be broken upon to release a mass of colored balloons. To get the joke you need to know that in the Piazza San Marco, one of the peak moments of Carnival, then and now, is the “flight of the Colombina.” In the very olden days a high-wire artistwould descend a wire stretching from the top of the campanile to the Doge’s Palace (no net.  Fun!!).  Or sometimes he or she was replaced by a huge model dove (“colomba”) which would burst open and shower the under-standers with clouds of confetti.  Seeing that our procession will conclude in the Cannaregio Canal, far, far from the piazza and its glamor and history, the ubiquitous rodent was chosen as the mascot, symbol, patron saint, whatever we want to call him or her, of our lower-brow festa.  I wish I could have gotten closer, this is the only picture I managed to make.  The backward-looking eyes make me laugh.  I wouldn’t have thought a creature this big would bother checking who was behind him.

Maybe he was watching for this, a dragon boat from the Canottieri Mestre. The American flag is flying…a yellow-haired effigy is standing…a model of a rocket is pointing…and all the rowers are wearing archery targets on their backs. Um….

And astern the flag of some unidentified nation (it is not the official flag of North Korea, I checked). But whatever that bit of fabric may be, I think we can surmise what it symbolizes. And a rocket pointing that way. Hilarious.

Wait: THIS is hilarious. The sign the central rowers are holding up translates as: “Mine is longer.” Badaboom.

The Addams Family, Uncle Fester rowing astern. The other family members were very white-faced, which was worth a photo but for some reason they kept looking the other way. Are they under witness protection?

She spent quite some time adjusting the black crape. We even have Cousin Itt in the form of the long blond wig on a stick.

Unlikely as it may seem, everybody manages fine with all those oars.

it does get squeezy under the Accademia Bridge, but we are not actually rowing the boat next to us. It only looks like that.

And speaking of squeezy, the overloaded vaporettos had to stay where they were, tied up to their boat-stop dock, until the procession had finished. That’s for everybody’s safety, obviously. And to allow all the passengers to crowd to the outboard side to make photographs of the spectacle, which judging by the inclination of the boat wouldn’t meet anybody’s safety standards. Fun!

Splashing along toward San Toma’, the boats seem to be organizing themselves by color somehow. Suddenly we’re in the blue section.

One caorlina’s crew maintained the roditory (made up — we need this word) theme by dressing as mice and loading the boat with cheese. Another hefty form of parmigiano adorned the stern as well.

Now we’re getting closer to the old satirical bone. Here the rowers are each carrying a cardboard rendition of a MOSE floodgate, complete with streamers of algae and the occasional barnacle. Algae also trailling from the boat, as you see. Check my last few posts about the condition of the gates to appreciate the satire here.

A quick refresher on what the real gates look like.  They do not inspire mirth.

And while we’re on the subject of current events, this boat has remnants of jewelry strewn across its bow and the sign says: “Doge’s Palace, here’s what’s left of the Maharaja’s treasure.”  Maharaja helpfully rowing nearby.  For reference see my post “Lugash on the lagoon.”

Every square or triangular or rhomboidal inch was occupied by people, even up onto the roof of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi.

Behind us, yet more miles of the flotilla. In the center, the “peata” of the rowing club G.S. Voga  Riviera del Brenta, bearing the soundtrack: music, singers, people yelling reckless happy phrases that added to the general atmosphere of revelry.

This little group demonstrated yet again that you don’t need an elaborate or expensive costume for carnivaling, but just a little imagination. Everybody in bathrobes and with towels wrapped around their heads; the two seated people are armed with the moveable showerhead and back-scrubbing brush. I think there’s a shower curtain there too.  So: Bathrobes. How can you say you don’t have a costume?

And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the alligator will lie down with the young penguin ..

This caorlina was draped with wafty white fabric and clumps of big cotton balls to create a wintry Alpine scene, complete with rowers in down jackets and somebody on the bow wearing red reindeer antlers.  Pay no attention to the blue and white bits in the background — that’s a white caorlina whose bow has been surmounted by a very large seagull head trailing sky-blue fabric.  If they had wanted to create a real Venetian scene, they’d have added a few bags of garbage pecked and ripped open with the contents strewn wildly around.

A charming couple in fairly authentic mountain-dwellers’ (as opposed to mountaineers’) garb.

The gloriously bedecked man astern is Angelo Boscolo, who recently launched his gondola made of 350 fruit crates. However amusing this may be, he spent a year and a half at it, and scrupulously adds that it is 30 cm (11 inches) shorter than the traditional gondola, and that the crates are made from 11 different types of wood (classic gondola uses 8 types, possibly not those used for kiwi containers).  On the thwart behind the seats has been carved a very Venetian saying: “Chi sa tace, chi non sa chiede. El mona sa già tutto” (Who knows, remains silent; who doesn’t know, asks.  The asshole already knows everything).

First prize and a blue ribbon in the “Actually, why the heck not?” category.

The Rari Nantes Patavium boat club (in Padua) has an elegant 12-oar gondola, here made even more elegant without six of its rowers but with the addition of two tangoing couples.

Of course it’s possible to tango in a space the size of a bathmat. I admire them even more for doing it on a boat, where even the smallest rogue wave could add a few steps they never studied in school.

They made it to the end, this extravagantly dressed pair of rowers. It’s true that everyone was rowing against the tide, but somehow seeing them at it made it appear even harder and more thankless. In any case, this is the once- typical boat of Lake Como, and bears the banner of the lakeside town of Bellano. Five centuries ago the craft was simply called “batel,” used for fishing and also passengers; since 1827 it has been called a “Lucia” in honor of the heroine of the novel “I Promessi Sposi” who makes her escape across the lake in such a boat.

Our four boats of the Remiera Francescana moored near the top of the Cannaregio Canal, in what appears to have suddenly become the Red Zone (the facing boats belong to the G.S. Voga Riviera del Brenta club).

The crowds along the fondamentas were in full cry. Here, a very cool family.

Cool, as in wearing your sunglasses over your mask.

The view of people ashore was almost as good as the one they got of us.  Fun!

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Jan
19

Carnival closing in

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This year Carnival is starting early, thanks to the lunar schedule which governs Easter (January 27 – February 13, if you’re keeping track; two and a half weeks, which seems long, but it’s three weekends, which is what really matters).  Therefore we are enjoying a shorter-than-usual interlude of calm and tranquility between Epiphany and the aforementioned Carnival — a mere three weeks, which isn’t nearly long enough to take all those deep breaths you so urgently need.  But there’s no arguing with the Paschal Full Moon, counting backwards from, and I imagine the city fathers would be happy for it to run for six months, as it did in the olden days, considering how much lucre spills into the municipal coffers therefrom.

What I am enjoying are the jolly signs of its approach.  Here are just a few glances around the neighborhood.  And yes, as every year, the frittelle are appearing in the pastry shops, and wild swaths of confetti have already been seen strewn across the pavement.  I notice that the garbage-collectors have been sweeping them away.  Why?  They’re not a health hazard.  They’re not a safety hazard.  They’re not ugly or offensive.  I wouldn’t have thought it possible to find yet another reason to complain about the garbage-collectors-and-sweepers, but I can’t see why they don’t devote whatever small, random spasms of energy they may experience with their brooms to sweeping away real trash, and just leave these merry little fragments of frivolity on the pavement, where they can cheer people up.  But so many things perplex me, no point in picking just one.

This is all it takes to make me happy.  The people just distract me — it’s much better if I come across the confetti as if thrown by an occult hand.

The first indication I saw of the oncoming juggernaut was the entire section of the Coop supermarket window stacked with boxes of galani, bags of confetti, a packages of streamers.

Shards of flour, fat and sugar. You deserve a close-up of these little monsters, they are so good.  But what — no masks?  Not so fast…

Just around the corner, in the sensible-food aisle next to the shelves of dried legumes and cellophane-wrapped bread are some masks. They thought of everything.

As did Mario and his wife in the nameless housewares and detergent and mops and toothpaste shop.  You can get glitter eyeliner here too, while it lasts.

They’re keeping pace with the Carnival Diet in the Conad supermarket on the Lido. Boxes and boxes of galani brought in from some demented factory where the ovens are baking night and day.  I wonder if these are any better than the ones in our neighborhood?  I wonder if I should seek the answer to that question?

 

Categories : Venetian Events
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Only fog could make Father Christmas look so ominous.

Only fog could make Father Christmas look so ominous.

I love charity benefit events; I also love Santa Claus (for the brief period each year in which I give him even one thought).  And last Sunday we came upon — or it came upon us — the third edition of an annual run/trot/stroll around half the city called the “Corsa dei Babbo Natale,” or “Race of the Santa Clauses” (Santas Claus?)

This is not unique to Venice, though the landscape here obviously presents some traits not present in Milan, Brescia, Verona, Savona, Belluno, and undoubtedly lots of other places all over Italy.  Sometimes it’s for charity, sometimes it’s just for fun.  Check your local listings.

In the case of Venice, it was organized to benefit AVAPO, the association of volunteers who assist cancer patients and their families.  The event was managed by The Venice Sport Shop and aided by various sponsors, primarily Mizuna, a maker of running shoes. For a modest fee anyone could sign up, get a number and a Santa Claus outfit and some other goodies, and join the crowd running/trotting/strolling from Rialto to Sant’ Elena and back to our own little lobe of Venice, the Giardini Pubblici, where music and refreshments waited.

I would happily have followed it and made lots of pictures of them running across the Piazza San Marco and other landmark sites, but we were set up to go rowing and join the boat procession of — yes — more Santa Clauses in the Grand Canal.  Curses!  We were foiled by fog! Vast, shifting, impenetrable banks of fog which not only would have spoiled the fun for us, but rowing to the church of the Salute would have rendered us a spectacular hazard to navigation.

But on our disappointed walk homeward, we suddenly found ourselves facing an army of S.C.’s swarming toward us.  They were tired, but they were determined, and it was great to see whole families out together.  And then people started greeting Lino by name as they passed, which was especially nice in the case of those who hadn’t yet removed their sweat-inducing beards because somehow Lino recognized virtually every one of the people greeting him. Was it their voice?  Their glasses?  Jewelry?  Birthmark? But as usual, this came as no surprise.  It’s the call of the DNA, which I can confirm overrides costumes, fog, and the passage of time.

But the quartet on the bridge were only the forerunners -- or forewalkers. They were followed by more and more red-breasted Saint Nicholases, who at this point have begun to ditch the beards which are cute, but undoubtedly hot and damp after a while.

But the Clauses on the bridge were only the forerunners — or forewalkers. They were followed by more and more red-breasted Saint Nicholases, who at this point had begun to ditch the beards which are cute, but undoubtedly hot and damp after a while.

They are not making Olympic qualifying times, but who cares?

They are not making Olympic qualifying times, but who cares?  They’re still in the game.

Man Mountain Santa is a prime candidate for testing for growth hormones. Or for extracting them.

Man Mountain Santa is a prime candidate for testing for growth hormones. Or for supplying them.

I have no idea where this boy got such a burst of energy -- at this point there were children being pulled along on their razor scooters. He may have had a vision of something thrilling, though I'm too old to know what that might have been.

I have no idea where this boy got such a burst of energy — at this point there were children being pulled along on their razor scooters. He may have had a vision of something thrilling, though he may just be excited that the fog has lifted enough for him to see anything.

What an adorable chorus line of little girls who appear to have foregone the provided Santa outfit in favor of something tending more toward Little Red Riding Santa.

What an adorable chorus line of little girls who appear to have foregone the provided outfit in favor of something more like Little Red Riding Santa.

As you see. Who but Italians (or I don't know, maybe they're Albanians. Anyway, they're in Italy) could make this outfit look so cool? Anyway, I know for a fact that at least one of these munchkins is half-Moldovan, because that's her mother smiling at me. She's an amazing seamstress and now that I think about it, she probably made all these outfits. In an hour. In her sleep.

As you see. Who but Italians (or I don’t know, maybe they’re Albanians. Anyway, they’re in Italy) could make this outfit look so cool? In any case, I know for a fact that at least one of these munchkins is half-Moldovan, because that’s her mother smiling at me. She’s an amazing seamstress and now that I think about it, she probably made all these outfits. In an hour. In her sleep.

And Fido makes three. His version of "Ho Ho Ho" was impressive.

And Fido makes three. His version of “Ho Ho Ho” was impressive.

If this Santa hasn't run to Venice straight from the North Pole, she at least must come from Hammerfest, where weather like this qualifies as a heat wave.

If this Santa hasn’t run to Venice straight from the North Pole, she at least must come from Hammerfest, where weather like this qualifies as a heat wave.

Mr. Bibendum has decided to branch out.

Bibendum has decided to branch out.

Santa needs funds, his reindeer need fodder,

Santa needs funds, his reindeer need fodder.

img_4437-blog-babbi-11-use-retouch

The finish line for the race is the starting line for the party, just inside the gate at the “Serra,” or municipal greenhouse. They’ve got LAWN SPACE!

And the emergency squad is perfectly garbed in Santa camo. Like they are every day. If you needed an ambulance squad in this crowd, you might have a problem.

And the emergency squad’s everyday uniform blends perfectly with the Santa color scheme.  If you needed to find the first-responders in this crowd, you might have a problem.

People who paid the premium registration fee got the garb, a gadget of some sort, and entrance to the party and rehydration agents. I didn't inquire as to either, but there was music and people looked happy.

People who paid the premium registration fee got the garb, a gadget of some sort, and entrance to the party and rehydration agents. I didn’t inquire as to what they were sipping, but there was music and people looked happy.

And then it was time for Mom-Santa to go the supermarket, get some grub, and take it and the kids home. Back to real life with you!

And then it was time for Mom-Santa to go the supermarket, get some grub, and take it and the kids home. When Santa lands the sleigh, the party’s over.

Categories : Venetian Events
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Sep
07

The blessing and the launching of the gondolinos

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To recapitulate: These were the gondolinos on August 25. (Photos taken from remieracasteo.blogspot.it.)

To recapitulate: These were the gondolinos on August 19. (Photo taken from remieracasteo.blogspot.it.)

These boats were a thesaurus of synonyms for "gleam." If you can discover where the cut was made and repaired, you're not human. No offense.

The restored boats were a thesaurus of synonyms for “gleam.” If you can discern where the cut was made and repaired, you’re not human. No offense.

I may have mentioned that I was RUDELY interrupted on Sept. 2 by my computer, which cut my post into chunks and then wouldn’t give them back (hence only that brief mention of the Return of the Gondolinos).

Although a few days have passed, I won’t be happy until I’ve finished the job.  So cast your minds back to last Thursday, when part of the “world of the oar,” as it’s called here, gathered for the annual ceremony of the blessing of the gondolinos and, unusual at this late date, the drawing of lots for the assigning of the boats to the racers.  Who gets what color boat is random, and the drawing usually follows shortly after the last elimination has whittled the list of rowers down to nine competing teams plus one reserve team, to be called in at whatever moment before the starting gun it’s clear that one team is not going to be racing.  It happens — not often, but I’ve seen the reserve boat actually win one time.  Considering that being the reserve means that you barely squeaked into the lineup against faster men (or women) than you, this outcome makes it clear that all sorts of factors, apart from sheer speed at the trials, come into play in the race itself.

This may well be true in many other athletic competitions, but I’m sticking to what I know.

There is no significance to the colors; the boats are painted in order to make it easy to distinguish and identify them from medium to far distance.  This ensures that the onlooker (say, a judge….) is identifying the appropriate boat as it crashes into its closest neighbor, or as it crosses the finish line. (Even in good weather, red and orange are almost impossible to tell apart.)  Furthermore, in the non-official races in which people sometimes race on their club boats, there is almost no way to identify the boats because they’re all pretty much the same mash-up of colors. The relatives of the racers know who’s who, but the judges almost certainly don’t.  To avoid any possible problems, the judges following the race in motorboats call out instructions and warnings by color, not by racer’s name.

As an extra security measure, which is very useful when there is rain and/or fog, numbers have been painted on the bow of each boat, as follows:1 white, 2 yellow, 3 purple (lavender, violet, whatever), 4 light blue, 5 red, 6 green, 7 orange, 8 pink, 9 brown, reserve: red and green.

The racers get a sash and a neckerchief to match the color of their boat; it used to be considered helpful.  Now it’s just part of the tradition.  The neckerchief was supposed to deal with the sweat (this was before terrycloth headbands), and the sash was intended to help truss up what sometimes, in the old days, were men who either did, or would soon, need one.

I had never seen an entire fleet of new Venetian boats, nor would I ever have thought I'd see one. that were completely new. It was thrilling, from the perfect gleam to the perfume of still-recent paint.

I had never seen an entire fleet of new Venetian boats, nor would I ever have thought I’d see one, considering how much the things cost.  (The total bill came to 80,000 euros, which means a paltry 8,000 euros each, but these were repairs.  A knowledgeable source told me a new gondolino could cost 30,000 euros.)  It was thrilling, from their perfect shine to their perfume of still-recent paint.  Eau de Regata Storica, with subtle top notes of epoxy.

As the crowd gathered, the Coro Serenissima provided the festive soundtrack with many of the classic Venetian songs.

As the crowd gathered, the Coro Serenissima provided the festive soundtrack with many of the classic Venetian songs. A good number of these ditties involve gondolas, the lagoon, and romance; so far no song has come out that features electric saws and battered boats.  I’d like to hear one about the maestri d’ascia (“masters of the adze”) who rebuilt the gondolini. Something along the lines of “The Ballad of John Henry” could work really well.

(L to R): "Maestri d'ascia," or "masters of the adze": Roberto dei Rossi, Dino Tagliapietra, Gianfranco Vianello "Crea."

(L to R):  Roberto dei Rossi, Dino Tagliapietra, and Gianfranco Vianello, nicknamed “Crea” (KRAY-uh). Not only does Crea carry the title of “Re del Remo” (“king of the oar”) for having  won the Regata Storica five times consecutively, he also built the boats which he now had to repair. Sad as he was to see them butchered, he said he was really happy to discover how well they’d held up over 35 years. And if “king of the oar” sounds silly, it’s as hard as winning the Triple Crown in horse racing. He won his title on the gondolino in 1981, and nobody has done it since.

The ceremony gets underway with photo-worthy hugs by the mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, wearing his official sash. to their right, the white-haired man in the black jacket is Mario Eremita, the artist who designed and painted the "palio," or banner, depicting the Regata Storica. This is new this year and is loaded with symbolism.

The ceremony gets underway with photo-worthy hugs by the mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, wearing his official sash. To their right, the white-haired man in the black jacket is Mario Eremita, the artist who designed and painted the “palio,” or banner, depicting the Regata Storica. This is new this year and is loaded with symbolism.

This is a test

As the artist explained to me, the lion of San Marco at the top depicts an African lion, because St. Mark was buried in Alexandria, Egypt.  Venice is always represented as a woman, of course, here wrapped in a cloak which repeat the colors of the gonfalone, or banner, of San Marco.  In her mid-section (womb, if you like), is the Piazza San Marco, with basilica and belltower, from which are emerging the boats of the Regata Storica and spreading across the water of the Bacino of San Marco. Her right hand holds an olive branch, the emblem of peace, and in her left she holds an ouroboros, the ancient representation of a snake devouring its tail which symbolizes rebirth and renewal; in this case, the repetition of tradition.

While everyone is milling around taking pictures, the racers are examining the boats. Here, Igot and Rudi Vignotto are analyzing where the boat was cut. If they ever found a trace, I'd be impressed.

While everyone is milling around taking pictures, the racers are examining the boats. Here, Igor and Rudi Vignotto are analyzing where the boat was cut. If they ever found a trace, I’d be impressed.

Speechifying ensues. Here, Giovanni Giusto, president of the Coordinating Committee of the Rowing Clubs and city councilor for rowing and traditions, shares his thoughts.

Speechifying ensues. Here, Giovanni Giusto, president of the Coordinating Committee of the Rowing Clubs and city councilor for rowing and traditions, shares his thoughts.  The gonfalone of San Marco adds the right touch, even if the rest of the ribbons can’t be seen.

Due to the delay in having the boats themselves, the gondolinos weren't assigned to the racers after the last elimination was held. So the usual drawing of lots had to wait for today, with just three days before the event.

Due to the delay in having the boats themselves, the gondolinos weren’t assigned to the racers after the last elimination was held. So the usual drawing of lots had to wait for today, with just three days before the event.  Drawing your boat at random limits the possibility of skulduggery, or the appearance thereof, the same reason why each team’s position at the starting line is also drawn by lot.  It’s not unheard-of for racers to consider a color as bringing victory or doom, so let’s just make everybody’s chances equal. As is customary, here the “poppieri,” or men rowing on the “poppa,” or stern, come to draw a small numbered ball — number corresponding to color — from the green bag held by Crea.  He is fulfilling this duty because he is now also the president of the race judges.

Posing with the sashes matching their boat's color.

All the racers posing with their sashes which match the color of their boat.

The men begin pulling out their forcolas and oars, ready for the blessing and, immediately thereafter, the launching of the boats.

The men begin pulling out their forcolas (oarlocks)  and oars, ready for the blessing and, immediately thereafter, the launching of the boats.

The stern forcola, made of the traditional walnut.

The stern forcola, made of the traditional walnut.

Finally we reach the moment of the blessing. The priest, pretty much hidden by the boats and the racers, has said his prayer and is now shaking holy water from his aspergillum across some boats. He was rather perfunctory, by which I mean he did not sprinkle all the boats. I don't know if that made a difference to the race, but it prevented me from getting a better picture.

Finally we reach the moment of the blessing. The priest, pretty much hidden by the boats and the racers, has said his prayer and is now shaking holy water from his aspergillum across some of the gondolinos. He was rather perfunctory, by which I mean he did not sprinkle all the boats. I don’t know if that made a difference to the race, but it prevented me from getting a better picture.

A closer look.

A closer look.

So let's get these boats in the water and out of here. In no particular order, the yellow boat is rolled on a small trolley to the edge of the steps to the canal, where some pieces of red carpet have been placed to ease the slide.

So let’s get these boats in the water already. The white gondolino has just been launched and now it’s the yellow boat’s turn to be rolled out, on a small trolley, to the edge of the fondamenta where some pieces of red carpet have been placed to ease the slide.

SAM_6716.JPG blog reg stor

The boat was tilted off the small trolley and slid along the edge of the fondamenta. At the halfway point, the poppiere climbed aboard and, as it were, took possession of his chariot.

The boat was tilted off the small trolley and slid along the edge of the fondamenta. At the halfway point, the poppiere — in this case, Luca Ballarin — climbed aboard and, as it were, took possession of his chariot.  It’s extremely unusual to have a person aboard when putting a boat in the water this way; it’s evident that you’re risking damaging the boat even if the water is fairly cooperative. I can’t explain why they decided to do it this way, but considering that we have three master boatbuilders on hand, I’m guessing they know what they’re doing.

Ignore the change in boat color -- the next phase was to lift the bow and push the boat free of the fondamenta. This required some strength and skill (I could just imagine the ferro of the bow striking the stone edge and I'm sure everyone else could imagine it too).

Ignore the change in boat color — the next phase was to lift the bow and push the boat free of the fondamenta, dropping it in the water. This required some strength and skill (I could just imagine the ferro of the bow striking the stone edge and I’m sure everyone else could imagine it too).

Flinging the boat into the water made a very satisfying sploosh. Here, Rudi Vignotto is ready get going.

Flinging the boat into the water made a very satisfying sploosh. Here, Rudi Vignotto has been flung. The man with the red trousers is not involved in these maneuvers in any way, but is taking a photo (I think) from a long pole.

No need for me to interpret the beauty of this moment. But the gondolino does provide a jarring contrast to the chaos of taxis, vaporettos and private motor boats that continues to swarm past. Yes, they were going slowly, due in part to a sentinel police boat. But there are far, far, far too many.

No need for me to expound upon the beauty of this moment. But the gondolino is a startling contrast to the chaos of taxis, vaporettos and private motor boats that continues to swarm past. Yes, they were going slowly, due in part to a sentinel police boat. But there are far, far, far too many.  And they and their passengers are living in a parallel universe which never touches ours.

But in the interest of fairness, most rowers -- I'm going to say all rowers -- have motorboats, some of them pretty hefty. The boat, I mean. So there you are.

But in the interest of fairness, I should mention that most rowers — I’m going to say all rowers — have motorboats, some of them pretty hefty. The boat, I mean. It makes sense because it’s useful for towing your boat, or for getting quickly and efficiently to wherever you have to train, which could be fairly far away.  But of course everybody thinks their motorboat makes sense.

Luca Ballarin hanging out with Franco Dei Rossi "Strigheta," one of the greatest racers but who this year has "hung his oar up on the nail," as they say of retired people. He's still working as a gondolier, but no more racing.

Luca Ballarin hanging out with Franco Dei Rossi “Strigheta,” one of the greatest racers but who this year has “hung his oar up on the nail,” as they say of retired people. He’s still working as a gondolier, but no more racing. You might not believe it, but it takes great strength of character to stop trying when your house is full of victory pennants but you’re past 60 and not up to your old speed.  At least one famous racer kept at it for years after he should have quit, on ANY boat and ANY race, even if he finished last. It was like one of those endless farewell tours by superannuated sopranos.  Depressing.  I’m sorry not to see “Strigheta” racing anymore, but I admire his dignity.

Kudos gathered, gondolinos gone, the party's over. All that's left to do now is the race itself. I'll save you any suspense: The first four to finish (which is what counts, because they get a pennant) were: Blue, White, Orange, Brown. If you want more particulars, even if they're in Italian, go to:http://www.veneziatoday.it/cronaca/regata-storica-venezia-2016-classifica-risultati.html

Kudos gathered, gondolinos gone, the party’s over. All that’s left is Roberto dei Rossi and lots of spare sawhorses and shadows.  As for the race, I’ll save you any suspense: The first four to finish (which is what counts, because they get a pennant) were: Blue, White, Orange, Brown. If you want more particulars, even if they’re in Italian, go to: http://www.veneziatoday.it/cronaca/regata-storica-venezia-2016-classifica-risultati.html

 

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