There was a small crowd gathered, and sure enough, there was a big stocking hung from the Rialto bridge, just as I had read about. I was sad there wasn't a huge crowd, but on the other hand, this is to be expected. Venice isn't only sinking, it's shrinking. With full time residents officially under 59,000 now, it's no wonder the attendance at many of these traditional events declines year by year. This is the 32nd annual Befana's regatta, and although it was small, it was exciting to me just the same.
This boat of lovely witches is carrying a cauldron of hot chocolate to the other side of the canal, and behind them, on the foot of the Rialto bridge, is a chorus singing traditional Venetian songs! I made my way up and over the bridge to find that hot chocolate!
When I got to the other side, I was close to the reviewing stand, and there were the Befana's! These two smiling gondoliers had just rowed the course, and were now getting ready to leave. I caught them and asked for "una fotografia, per favore". Cute, aren't they??
This boat is one used in the regatta, with the witches broom in the front. It's not a regular gondola. This boat is a sandola, with a more squared off front and back, however it is rowed in the traditional Venetian manner, standing up.
After the race, all of the Befana's took the stocking down from the Rialto bridge, and carried it back down the Fondamenta del Vin. This is great- one of the Befana's (see the guy on the right?) was taking a photo on his phone of the others!
They have the huge stocking loaded up onto a larger boat, and are preparing to take it back to storage, over to the Salt Warehouse on the Zattere.
I love this one.... no more words needed.
Away they go, rowing down the Grand Canal. Ciao, Befana's... until next year!!!