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

Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve 2013 in Venice

Tonight's festivities in Piazza San Marco are being advertised (see photo of poster below) as White Christmas 2013. Too bad- we have no snow.  Perhaps everyone will be wearing white!

If you are here and want to be where the action is tonight-

10:30 pm- live music in the Piazza with the Venice White band, and entertainment by Mr. White.  (Don't know who Mr. White is, I'm almost tempted to go to St. Mark's just to find out!)

11pm- free toast with Bellini Canella

Just before 12pm- the countdown to the New Year. Just like in Times Square!

12:15 am - Fireworks in St. Mark's basin

12:30 am - music in the square with DJ Maci

The stage in St. Mark's square will be the center of all the festivities, until a little after midnight when the fireworks begin.

I was present in St. Mark's square for New Years Eve two years ago, I will not be returning this evening. I will avoid the masses, probably will be 7,000 to 10,000 people there. Instead, we will have a quiet dinner at home. At midnight, we'll stroll over to the waterfront just up from Sant'Elena at Giardini to view the fireworks. No one does fireworks like the Italians. I think they invented pyrotechnics.

Cotechino or zampone and lentils are traditionally served for dinner on New Year's Eve, which is called Cenone di San Silvestro.  Cenone literally means "big dinner".  Lentils, because they look like coins, are eaten in the hopes of having lots more money/luck in the coming year. We were given a gift of a cotechino last year, we tried it, we're  not having it again this year. Our dinner is a little less traditional. Roast chicken, roast potatos with onions and raddiccio, and yes, lentils. We will hope for a little bit of luck in 2013!

(photo courtesy Italianfood.about.com)

My initial idea for today's blog was a month by month review of my 2012. As hard as I tried, I couldn't come up with anything that satisfied me.  It's been a good year. A bit trying at times, but on the whole, a good one.  We traveled- the month of February in Portugal (Porto, Lisbon and Madiera Island) and the month of November in China (Beijing, Xian, down the Yangtze River, Shanghai and Hong Kong), with a brief  2 day visit to Istanbul. Both of our dogs, Sam and Leo, passed away this year. We had great visits with family and friends, including a month with my daughter Shannon, and made new friends along the way.  We sadly said goodbye to loved ones who succumbed to cancer this year.  We survived the move to the new apartment. 

 Mike and I were just commenting over lunch this afternoon that the move feels like we flipped the page, closing a chapter of our lives and starting a new one.  Perfect sentiment for today, the last day of the 2012. 

With that, I will wish all of our family, friends far and wide, and all my blog readers the happiest of New Year's. Buon Anno. Tanti Auguri a tutti!  

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Not quite Aqua Alta in Venice this morning....

Normally when I post something about water in Venice, it's relating to Aqua Alta. Well, this morning I had  Aqua Alta of a different kind,  like I've not experienced before.

When I turned the water faucet on in the kitchen first thing this morning, there was very low water pressure. I thought that was odd, but got enough water to fill up the tea kettle, and went on about my morning routine. After my first cup of tea, I went to the shower. Not only was there low water pressure, there was no hot water at all. A cold shower was not what I really wanted first thing this morning.

I hopped out of that shower quickly, and went down the hall to wake Mike up. He got out of bed to see if he could figure out if there was something wrong with the caldaia (hot water heater). He couldn't find anything unusual, but he did agree with me there was something wrong. I had to get going to an appointment, so I took what my mother used to call an "Indian bath"- wash cloth and water fron the sink - very cold- and very quick. Not exactly how I wanted to start my day!

Off I went, heading towards St. Marks on the vaporetto. I was not  happy with my water situation one bit, but hopeful that whatever was going on in the apartment building with the water would be resolved before the day was over. Just as we arrived at the San Zaccaria vaporetto stop, I noticed something very unusual on the sidewalk just in front of us.  Take a look.....

My fellow vaporetto passengers were all pointing, exclaiming " Guarda  (look), a geyser!"

Sure enough, there was water spouting everywhere from a hole in the street. Police had cordoned off the area and were standing guard to prevent passerby from walking in it. Workers had begun to set up the  the platforms used for actual Aqua Alta days around the outskirts so people could bypass the mess.  Seems a water pipe had burst.  When I saw what was happening, I figured this just might explain why I didn't have hot water or much pressure for my shower.

Later in the day I saw a local newspaper article reporting the break in the pipe caused half of Venice to be without water this morning. Wasn't I lucky it was my half of Venice!

Thankfully my wish was granted, water was restored to normal by mid day. I'm calling it an Aqua Alta day. We're in Venice after all, this was water, and it was spouting pretty high.

Monday, December 24, 2012

It's Venice, it's winter,and it's time to go to the market.

In Venice for a winter holiday and can't decide what to wear to go to Rialto market?  Here's just a handful of the fur choices seen yesterday.

 Mostardo, an Italian fruit and mustard condiment, typically served with boiled meats,  consists of fruits preserved in a syrup mixed with either powdered mustard seed or mustard essence. The one shown above  is in the window of one of my favorite shops,  Drogheria Moscari, a wonderful old grocery  located on Calle degli Spezieri in the San Polo district, very close to the Rialto bridge.

This Babbo Natale wasn't wearning any fur, but how could I resist?

 Our Italian word of the day is pelliccia- fur coat.  

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A foggy day in Venice

Yesterday morning we set off for Rialto market in search of fish, more precisely sardines, for our Christmas Eve meal. The fog was thick, so thick that all the vaporettos that run up the Giudecca canal were being routed up the Grand Canal. Typical winter though, it's foggy here. Here's what the vaporetto dock at Sant'Elena looked like as we were leaving.

I disembarked at San Zaccaria, with the intention of walking the remainder of the way from St. Mark's up to Rialto.  I had no idea there was a regatta being held yesterday, so  you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was to discover  several boats queuing up right in front of the San Zaccaria boat dock. Not your usual regatta participants either. All the boats were being rowed by Babbo Natales- and , looking a bit closer , I spotted some ....yes, that's  right, women rowers.  Brava, ragazze!!!
These photos are as good a view as I could get, through all the fog.

As I watched these women maneuvering their boats, I found myself having an Italian language discussion with myself, in my head.  I thought..if one is Babbo Natale, is two or more of them (males) Babbi Natale??  or Babbi Natali??   Is a female then a Babba Natale?? And more than one Babbe Natali??
I found myself completely in the fog... inside and out!!   So I convinced myself to give up. To satisfy myself and end the internal debate, I took it upon myself to call these female rowers "Babette ", and not worry about the plural at this time. Basta.   At least then I could get my head out of the fog.

Hmmm... Rudolfo and friend pulling....a boat, not a sleigh. Only in Venice!

I didn't have time to stick around to catch the entire regatta as I needed to get to the fish market before it closed.  The market was swarming with people, all with the same shopping list I had, evidently- fish for their holiday meals.  I bought crab, oysters and rombo. Unfortunately, not one tiny sardine left in all of Rialto to be had by the time I got there (about 10:30-11 am).

Loaded down with not only fish but a bag full of vegetables, I waited for the vaporetto at Rialto Mercato to return home. Fortunately, most of the fog had burned off.  As I waited for the #1 boat to make it's way down the Grand Canal, some of the Babbo Natale regatta racers were making their way home down the Grand Canal, post race. I had a great vantage point for photos right on the front of the dock.

Wonder if she is the Ice Queen??

As the last rower passed in front of me, I turned to my right, and caught this man also observing the rowers (see photo below) while queued up for the vaporetto.     Santa?????

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A little bit more Christmas in Venice

It's not Christmas in Venice without at least a few sightings of Santa Claus..opps... make that Babbo Natale!  Santa delivers gifts to good children (but of course, only the good ones) by climbing up the balconies on rope ladders. No chimneys to climb down here in Venice. Here's a selection of a few Babbo's I spotted yesterday on my walk from Sant'Elena to Via Garibaldi.

I loved this one, looks like he's rapelling down to the window! Brave Babbo!

In addition to Babbo sightings, you can't help but know it's the Christmas season when you start seeing all the Panetone's stacked up in all the bakery windows.

And while this guy isn't quite the same as the other Babbo Natale's I've seen, I had a hard time passing -him by. This life size Babbo - well, at least my size Babbo (he's as tall as I am)- is standing in front of a shop on Via Garibaldi.  I particularly love his fur trim jacket and hat. Fits right in with winter in Venice.

 Yes, there are Christmas trees (alberi di Natale) in Venice. Not many, but you can find them. These are at the little nursery close to the Giardini vaporetto stop. Most likely you would need the vaporetto to get the tree home after buying it. Can't imagine carrying a live tree through Venice. As much as I regretted giving up having a live tree when we moved here, we did break down and by a very nice "imitation" one a couple of years ago.

I loved the red balls on this gate decoration on Sant'Elena. Note the Babbo Natale at the window ....

And finally....it wouldn't be Christmas in Venice without some Murano glass Santa sightings. This whimsical little tiny one standing only 2 inches high  is in our living room.  It's blown by Igor Balbi, a talented glassblower who has a shop near the Rialto market.

Buon Natale from our house to yours!