Archive for New Year’s Eve


Happy ending, happy beginning 2018

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My new blue-ribbon lion. Evidently some Byzantine sculptor decided he needed glasses. And the tongue?  Did he just swallow aspirin without water?

It doesn’t matter that New Year’s is my most unfavorite event in the year — it occurs every 365 days anyway.  But I couldn’t let the year get packed away in the back of the closet along with everything else without showing I’m still very much alive, and looking forward to unpredictable wonders in 2018.

Anchored out in the lagoon between the Giudecca and the mainland is the Fireworks Barge (or platform, or pontoon, whatever the technical term might be). The day will have been spent arraying all the explosives on this surface for the big show at midnight.

The New Improved Plan for tonight is to shift the thousands who will be in Venice to accept delivery of 2018 from the Piazza San Marco to a larger, less constricted space. Translation: The Riva degli Schiavoni down to the bridge of the Veneta Marina (church of San Biagio). Temporary fencing has been positioned to help prevent the celebratory drunken mob from falling in the water.  It does not appear to be unbreachable, but one can hope.

This system of helpful signs was inaugurated last year and evidently it worked well. Placing huge EXIT signs at the entrance to every tiny street and alley egressing from the zone of maximum crowdmass is obviously an intelligent security measure, considering that 98 percent of the partyers will not be Venetians and will not know where they are or how to get to somewhere else if some stressful urgency should arise.

Your last chance to flee before via Garibaldi, around the Naval Museum.

And in conclusion, Lino and I wish everyone a resounding “Saldi in pope!” A very profound and Venetian wish which means to stay firmly planted on the stern of your boat regardless of motondoso, gusts of wind, other boats cutting across your bow without warning in the dark, and whatever else may befall the hardy navigator.  I could go on, but I think you have grasped my point.

A slightly shipwrecked poinsettia did not follow my instructions.


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Updating the Uncrating

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By now the hard candies made of glass have surpassed cliche'. But now a whimsical glassmaker has begun to produce chocolates. I want them all...

By now the hard candies made of glass have surpassed cliche’. But now a whimsical glassmaker has begun to produce chocolates. I want them all…

First, apologies to those who subscribe; the link to a YouTube clip did not come through in the e-mail version.  (I keep forgetting about that, because it makes no sense….).

Here it is.  Background music for the New Year:

News from the Western Front, where all was not quiet on the night of Saint Sylvester (Dec. 31).  The Gazzettino this morning gave some details.

At 10:30 PM the Liberty Bridge to the mainland was closed because there was no more room to park (38 buses and 1,500 cars were stashed at Tronchetto, 750 in the Comunale garage and 450 in the San Marco garage, both at Piazzale Roma).

Police estimated there were 80,000 people partying in and around the Piazza San Marco. Despite regulations requiring plastic bottles for your chosen beverage, there was plenty of broken glass around, which wounded 39 people.  One person fell in the water, but not from the Piazza San Marco.

Astonishing, but the vaporettos and buses were sufficient and efficient.  (As my old choir leader used to say when we did what he wanted, “Now you’re in trouble — now I know you can do it.”)

So much for the turn of the year.  I’m facing forward now.


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Let the New Year begin

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All the best to everyone everywhere, especially anyone reading my blog.  I hope 2013 is a sterling year for you.  I mean, why not?

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Venetian New Year’s Eve

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Fireworks anywhere look great, even if they're not over Venice.

Fireworks anywhere look great, even if they're not over Venice.

If you had been here, you could have done any or all of the following to celebrate the Night of Saint Silvester, as it is also known here.

You could have ingested a festive dinner at Harry’s Bar for a trifling 500 euros ($662) per person. It was marked down at the last minute from 1,200 euros ($1,590) because times are hard. I’m not sure how much profit they made at that price considering that the menu covered champagne, caviar, truffle ravioli, tournedos and so forth.  Maybe they downgraded from Beluga to Sevruga. That’s what we’ve certainly done.

And yet, the transcendent Arrigo Cipriani, owner, scion, and namesake of this legendary establishment, has not only made it sound as if he has slashed prices more drastically than a tire/mattress/car salesman, he also made it known that in spite of the hard times, almost all the tables were already taken, so you had to book fast. I guess I understand that.  Make it sound like a sale and people automatically think they’re saving money.

firework-d2asAfter you had reveled in your Lucullan repast, you could have gone around the corner to the Piazza San Marco not only to watch the fireworks but create your own (metaphorically speaking) by throwing in your osculatory lot with all the other couples thronging the piazza who have been primed by weeks of publicity to come here to kiss each other at midnight.

It’s the third year that this experience has been offered and it was an immediate success; it is now referred to as a tradition. Four thousand lips beating as one.

Two years ago a family from Milan lost their golden retriever in the crush and the city was plastered with their appeals for months, complete with photo (was her name Molly?  Lucy?). Eventually she was found, which kind of surprised me, but not how long it took. Considering how many dogs there are here, she must have been having the best time of her life.

Then there will be the homemade explosives set off around town. Usually here they aren’t big or dangerous enough to blow away arms and put out eyes and all the rest of what happens in Naples and other places addicted to New Year’s ordnance.

Speaking of things going crash and boom, Lino remembers when people here still marked midnight by throwing out the window everything they wanted to get rid of. “Everything!” he repeated when I asked for examples. Dishes.  Glasses.  Chairs.  Toilets.  (I did not make that up.)  He says that people  in Rome and Naples still do it.  I’m making a note of it on my “Not To-Do” list.  Right next to my note that says “Wear black fishnet stockings, hard hat.”

Otherwise, though, he says that, until the Seventies, New Year’s Eve wasn’t regarded as an event to celebrate in any particular way here. “At midnight, all the ships in the port blew their horns.  Otherwise, people just went to bed like any other night.” Making their own pyrotechnics.

Wherever you were, I hope your celebrations were just what you wanted, no less, and certainly no more.

Happy New Year!

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Categories : Events, History
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