Friday, April 25, 2008

In Venezia VIII

April 25th is quite the day in Venezia. A national holiday celebrating liberation at the end of WWII, it's also a Venetian holiday. St. Mark's Day celebrates the founding of Venezia in 421 AD--that's 1587 years ago. For a thousand years, Venezia was governed more or less by an elected republic. Granted, the Doges came from the aristocrats, but don't our presidents for the most part? And they had a very complicated electoral process, sort of like our Electoral College on steroids. Puts the history of the US in perspective, although I'm sure the poor of old Venezia probably didn't appreciate the republican form of government. But the poor of the US probably don't either. Flower stands started appearing as one is supposed to give a rose to the one one loves on the 25th. At 5 to 7 € a pop, there were very few visibly loved people in the crowds. Maybe as more wine flows...

Even the nuns are out in force. It's pretty unusual to see a nun in a habit in Oregon, and they aren't too common here either, but there were lots enjoying the day and even some talking on their cell phones. I'll bet more than one bambina's hand gets slapped with a ruler for pulling out the telefonino in school!

We headed off to St. Mark's early so as to be able to observe the Race of the Traghetti and found ourselves in perfect position to observe the ceremonies in the Piazza--complete with dignitaries, military, the only running brass band I've ever seen (yes, running while playing a fanfare), and a flag raising.

I'm also pretty sure I saw Guido Brunetti, the hero Commisario of Donna Leon's crime series set in Venezia. Nancy keeps reminding me that it's fiction, but I'm sure this guy is Brunetti. He looks a little like Lt. Colombo and was moving around inside the fenced area like a cop on the lookout for someone wanting to do something bad. What do you think?

It was also a great day for sightseeing, people watching and window shopping. The streets were jammed with Venetians and tourists alike. Lots of kids playing in Campi. Lots of tourists taking pictures of other tourists taking pictures of them. People from the ceremonies dressed in period and riding in gondolas. Lots of caffe, caffe latte, caffe correto, vino bianco, vino rosso, and aqua minerale being drunk. Lots of dolce, panini, gelatio, and cicchetti being eaten. Lots of miles being walked and steps being climbed.

Oh, here's what the bells sound like several times a day at our casa San Barnaba

1 comment:

Cyn said...

John, I'm loving your commentary. Brings back fond memories for me. I think we'll skip the tongue but I'm totally impressed by your marketing ventures.

Are you going on the Guido tour? We thought it was great, and much of it takes place in that area of the city. (Look how far we've come, it used to be "the city" meant NYC, now it means Venice!)

I'll be checking your blog regularly for updates.
Cynthia Frazier-Rogers