Archive for December, 2014
Before we leave the subject and the scales and bones and gift-wrapping of Christmas behind, one last glimpse of holiday merriment. I wasn’t there, I’m sorry to say — I was sorry to say it the day it occurred, too, which was December 21.
The event: A “corteo,” or boat procession, in the Grand Canal, composed of anyone who wanted to row as long as he or she was dressed as Santa Claus (or “Babbo Natale,” as he’s known here).
The reason: First, because it seemed like a fun thing to do. Second, because it seemed like an amusing occasion for the Coordinamento delle Remiere (the association of rowing clubs) to give a prize and a big round of applause to the dwindling group of hardy souls who have rowed in all 40 Vogalongas. I say “dwindling” because in May there were 24 such persons, and on Santa Sunday there were 22.
The special bonus: Fog. Fog and just enough wind to make the air feel even sharper. But would this deter anyone willing to pull out the boat and pull on the red-and-white outfit? Obviously not.
Because I was busy elsewhere, Lino armed a modest sandolo and headed for the lineup joined (happily for Lino and I think also happily for the others) by Gabriele De Mattia, a former rowing student of his and ex-cadet of the Francesco Morosini Naval School, and his girlfriend, Francesca Rosso. She had never rowed before, but Lino soon took care of that.
So the three of them spent the morning rowing, and Lino was awarded a red pennant, such as those given to the winners of races here, with his name on it, and everybody was happy. Especially when the sun finally came out.
So a big shout-out to Francesca, who when she wasn’t rowing, was taking pictures. If she hadn’t been there, you all would just have had to imagine it. As would I. This is better.
Now here is something different you can do on Christmas afternoon, if you’re not watching football and your family has allowed you to live. You can look at oldish photographs of Venice.
Not quite as old as the photograph above, but the last 50 years has produced an immense trove — some 80,000 images — of places all around Venice, and some 7,000 of those are now online. They belong to the Urban Photographic Archive of Venice.
These photographs weren’t made for any aesthetic reason, but as sturdy visual records of all sorts of projects, restoration, maintenance, new public works, and so on. Prose, not poetry.
In case anyone imagined that Venice has been encapsulated by time, like the proverbial black spitting thick tail scorpion in amber, a random scan of these pictures will show how much change has been going on here since the Sixties.
So go have a look at the Album di Venezia, click on the red words in the center that say “Archivio Fotografico Urbanistica Online,” and on the page that comes up, click on the red rectangle that says “Sfoglia l’album,” and go to it. As per frequently, there is no English translation. So working out the words ought to amuse you for a little while.
By then it will be time for another piece of pie, and you’ll have something to talk about that doesn’t involve pigskin.
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.