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

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Festa di San Giacomo dell'Orio

One of my favorite summer time activities is to attend the festa's sponsored by local communities to raise money for their neighborhood church.  It gives me a chance to really feel like a local, and experience the locals out at their best- and no one does it quite like the community at Campo San Giacomo dell'Orio.

The festa this year runs from July 14 to July 23. I had put it on my calendar earlier in the month to be sure I wouldn't miss it.  I shouldn't have worried, because my hairdresser Simone always gives me the list of things going on around town he thinks I should definitely not miss.  And sure enough, he reminded me the other day about this one coming up!

Mike and I walked over on Friday evening to eat dinner in the campo, cooked by the neighbors out on big grills. They had chicken, sausage, beef, ribs and vegetables grilling. How could anyone resist those smells! Mike chose grilled chicken and polenta, I had bigoli in salsa (spaghetti with anchovy and onion).

Every evening during the week long festa there is a band playing at the bandstand at the far end of the campo.  I noticed from the schedule that one of my favorite local groups, Furio and  Ska J, would be performing on the 19th.   We made plans to return on Tuesday July 19.

All day long yesterday (the 19th), I looked forward to being able to sit out under the sky at Campo San Giacomon dell'Orio, to enjoy some food, great music, and get another dose of the locals out in their natural habitat.  It's another reminder that no matter how long I am here, I will never be considered a local, but I don't mind that anymore.

When we arrived at the campo, the line of people waiting to order their dinner snaked all the way through the campo. This is great for the church coffers, unfortunately we didn't want to wait that long. Instead we chose to eat at Taverna Capitan Uncio in the campo.  Doing this allowed us to get a table and seating very close to the bandstand, and I could also have some of my favorite pizza.  Karen was a happy girl!

The band's equipment was already set up on the bandstand by the time we sat down.  As we ate, the band members were coming and going, making sure everything was in place. Shortly before 9pm, we noticed all of the guys in the band, dressed in shorts and T shirts, pick up garment bags from the bandstand and off they went. A few minutes later, they all returned in black suits and white shirts, except for Furio, the lead singer, who donned a pink shirt instead.  At exactly 9pm, the band started playing.  The lines waiting for grilled food were still long, but we had just about finished eating and were getting ready to enjoy some drinks and dessert, and music.

A few sprinkles had been coming down intermittently during dinner. At the same time the band began,  the rain started to come down more. There was no avoiding getting wet now. Our table was not under cover.   The owner of the restaurant, a little woman dressed in a white chef's outfit, ran out to help people pull their tables back under cover. She told us to go sit at a larger table while she wrestled with our smaller table by herself. She refused to move anything off the table, she just yanked it harder and harder. Wouldn't you know it, the water glasses all tipped over, spilling water everywhere. She yelled:  "VAFANCULLO!!!!.     (Translation:  Go F-K yourself)  I just about peed my pants lauging.

A few minutes later, I received a text message from my friend Louisa informing me of her arrival and location on the other side of the bandstand. God bless cell phones and text messaging. Without these, I would never have located them in that crowd!  I herded Lousia, her daughter Poppy, and Poppy's friend Izzy back to our table. The girls decided they wanted some gelato,so raced off around the corner. And then the skies opened up. Furio and band mates were frantically covering all their equipment with tarps. They stood around for a few minutes waiting to determine if the downpour would let up. Unfortunately for all of  us, it didn't.  For the next 30 minutes the band ran back and forth, packing up and removing equipment in the pouring rain. We were dry, under the restaurant's umbrella.  We made plans for how we would evacuate and make our way home.

We were laughing about needing umbrella salesmen.  Normally, the second a drop of rain falls out of the sky there are hundreds of guys out in the streets hawking 5 Euro umbrellas.  If ever we needed them, it was last nite!  And- like magic- our prayers were answered, one of these umbrella guys appeared at our table.  We quickly purchased 3 of them. We knew they would only last about 5 minutes, it's always the case, but we felt better having them, none the less.

Louisa opened her umbrella as she and the girls stood up to leave. Sure enough, the umbrella was already busted. One of the spokes was not connected to the fabric, it was sadly sticking out all on it's own. Another round of laughter. Oh yes, this is  exactly what we expected on a night like this.  We said our goodbyes. Louisa and the girls made their way barefoot to the San Stae vaporetto dock, while Mike and I turned in the other direction headed for Piazzale Roma.  I got only to the other side of the church, maybe about 10 meters from the safety of the restaurant awning, when my umbrella collapsed. It just wouldn't stay up. I ended up with this little tiny bit of umbrella shaft, maybe 10 inches at most. I looked like I was wearing a big flat yellow bonnet on my head.  On top of that, there was standing water on every street, contributing to soaked shoes  and water wicking up our pant legs to about mid-calf level.  The umbrella didn't do much good. It was all good for a great laugh, though.

Upon arriving home and drying out a bit, I couldn't resist watching a couple of You-tube clips, I wanted to get a bit of  Furio and Ska-J that I missed out on.  Furio, the long haired guy in the video, lives near we do. We we see him around the neighborhood often. So, dear readers,  have a little dose of one of my favorite local Venetian groups on me. Enjoy!

This song- So Figo, is from the group's latest album.  The next one, Santa Marta, is one of their earliest hits.


Anonymous said...

Oh, those umbrellas! You're right, cinque euro, cinque minuti! That is too bad it rained and you couldn't see/hear the Ska group, they look like such fun on Youtube.

Michelle said...

I've had a bit of catching up to do on your blog posts.
I love Ska-J having discovered the band on after someone mentioned them on Yvonne's blog.
Maybe I can be the gray haired lady he helps over the bridge with her suitecase.
Glad you are enjoying your simple pleasures!

Michelle said...

PS. I had a better experience with a "cheap" umbrella that I bought in a small village shop outside London, UK. We were caught in a downpour and there just happened to be a shop specializing in umbrellas. I picked up a lovely turquoise one that was 5 pounds (I don't have that symbol on my keyboard) and he reached under the counter and said wouldn't you really rather have this one...purple that matched my raincoat exactly. I still have it and still use it quite often...and that was the summer of 1985.
So there are inexpensive ones that last more than five minutes.

karen said...

Michelle- you are SO lucky. I have had many 5 Euro umbrella purchases and every one of them has flipped inside out or disintegrated in 5 minutes or less!

Michelle said...

Maybe the rainy UK takes their umbrellas more seriously. Ha Ha.

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

What a shame it rained, but at least it did not spoil what sounds like a fabulous evening.