We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Regata Storica tomorrow!

Regata Storica, held every year on the first Sunday of September, is a joyous celebration in Venice. It consists of a historical boat parade followed by rowing competitions in the Grand Canal. The crowning glory of the day is the last race, the race of 2 man teams of gondoliers.

Earlier in the week the blessing of the gondolas  took place in front of Santa Maria della Salute Church in Dorsoduro.  Today people will be decorating their windows along the Grand Canal, in preparation for the big day. The Regata Storica started sometime in the 13th century to celebrate Venice's position as a maritime superpower. Today it is one of the city's most loved events, a spectacular display of color, costumes, pagentry, and rowing skills!

To whet your appetite for tomorrow's big event, I've pulled a few photos from my archives.

The Grand Canal is closed to all boat traffic in the afternoon, between 2 and 5 pm. If you are planning to take a vaporetto or water taxi somewhere along the Grand Canal tomorrow, forget about it.  Instead, find a piece of canal-side, make yourself at home and enjoy one of Venice's favorite celebrations with us.

The schedule for the day is as follows:

2:00 pm- historic boat processional down the Grand Canal
3:00 pm - youth race, two oars pupparini
3:20 pm - women's race in mascareta
3:50 pm - men's race in caorline, six man teams
4:20 pm - men's race in gondolini, two man teams

The reviewing stand for dignitaries, and the official finish line for the races is at Ca' Foscari.

I'm not sure where along the canal I will find myself tomorrow. I'm thinking perhaps at San Toma, or maybe close to the train station. Whereever I end up, I'll be taking more photos of the action. 

Facelift for Piazzale Roma

While this photo doesn't quite do justice to the new renovations that have been going on in Piazzale Roma over the past month or so, it does give you a glimpse of the new taxi line!  It's been moved to the other side of the parking lot completely.  Lots of changes taking place -- from the new paving to the installation of trees and some benches.

The overhaul is long overdue. Piazzale Roma is Venice's entry point for visitors coming in by bus, car and now the People Mover. It needed a bit of updating. In this case, the changes are all good.

The bus stop locations have changed around a bit, so it's going to be confusing until we all get accustomed to the new spaces and numbering. But with a little patience, it will all sort itself out. On the plus side, the renovations are done. It was a bit of a nightmare having to deal with the buses being located out on Tronchetto for several weeks, and not knowing exactly what was where.  I wondered why this all had to be done in August, the busiest and hottest time of the year!

The grand re-opening ceremony has taken place. Even Mayor Orsoni got in on some ribbon cutting. Piazzale Roma is looking brand new.

Next renovation project: Accademia Bridge. Stay tuned for updates. 

A visit from my family

My sister just spent  4 days in Venice, and now, I need a vacation.

Venice was the middle stop on a trip to Rome, Venice and Paris for my sister Charlotte, brother-in-law Steve, and their 11 yr old granddaughter Sophie.    I had been tagged by Charlotte to help  pull together the Venice leg of their adventure, since I lived here. I had worked hard on planning 4 days of activities that might appeal 11 yr old, and now it was show time.

We did all of the usual " touristy" things- saw St. Mark's square, the Rialto bridge, the markets, marvelled at the canals and little alleyways.  I walked their feet off and left them ragged at their hotel every evening! And in between all that we did a few not-so-touristy things as well.  We visited my favorite campos and stopped in at my favorite caffes.   Sophie got to meet a few of my friends. First stop was  Mauro Vianello's shop on Calle dei Morti where he created a couple of custom glass gifts for Sophie to take home. Mauro never ceases to amaze me, and I know he wow-ed Sophie! Grazie, Mauro for helping make this a very special visit for one little girl from New York.

We had a private glass blowing demonstration at Mazzucato's on Murano. A wonderful glassblower, Gianni, fascinated us by creating the most exquisite drinking glasses. Sophie purchased a ring made from glass, in the shape of a rose, just what she was looking for!

Next up was a one-on-one mask making session with Mario at Benor Maschere in Santa Croce.  Mario went above and beyond our wildest expectations as he gave Sophie tips on decorating her mask. And then, at the end, he lovingly did a little bit of touch up on her mask to make it an absolutely exquisite piece of art she will treasure for a lifetime.

The night we had dinner at La Terrazza , the restaurant at Hotel Bonvecchiati, I came away with another new friend. I won't be forgetting Fulvio, one of our delighful waiters, anytime soon, and I am sure I'll be back to visit him again and again. At one point in the meal I introduced myself to Fulvio, and explained that I live here. He responded with, "But I have never seen you before!".  As I was leaving Fulvio slipped me a note containing the name of a friend of his who owns another restaurant in town.

One afternoon, while trying a Spritz in Campo S. Giovanni e Paolo, my brother-in-law looked around and said,  "It just doesn't get any better than this, does it?"  I smiled, happy that this constantly working relative had been able to take a step back, and really enjoy a few moments in this beautiful city.

We saved a gondola ride for the very last night.  The heat of the day had left, there was a slight breeze even. All the  crowds had left the city for the day, and we just about had Venice to ourselves. An early evening gondola ride was the perfect way to end a visit.   Venice is a magical city. It's even more magical by gondola.

It is no secret that I love Venice.  To my great surprise, this week I fell even more in love.