Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Campo San Cassiano, or, Thinking of Giacometti

"In Venice," Gabriele D'Annunzio writes in Il fuoco, "one cannot think except through images."

With the image above I found myself thinking of a work of Alberto Giacometti's from the late 1940s entitled Piazza that you can see at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum here in Venice.

The museum's website provides Giacometti's own explanation for the work's (or series of works') inspiration:
In the street people astound and interest me more than any sculpture or painting. Every second the people stream together and go apart, then they approach each other to get closer to one another. They unceasingly form and re-form living compositions in unbelievable complexity. . . . It’s the totality of this life that I want to reproduce in everything I do. . . .

One of the things that is lost to mass tourism is the dynamism of the public space, whether piazza or campo, as described by Giacometti. Mass tour groups simply clump or trudge, volitionless; tourists, needing to be nowhere in particular, and not knowing how to get there in any case, merely drift, washing up on steps, clotting in calli, adhering to any brightly lit display window, like sea wrack.

But sometimes, and in some places, on brisk fall or winter nights (or mornings), you can still see what Giacometti had in mind. 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

'Round Midnight, Campo San Giacomo dell'Orio

In the last hour of yesterday and the first minutes of this morning it looked like a fog was settling in for an extended stay in Venice--the city's long history turning palpable, it seemed, cold breath of the countless long-gone thickening the air, the paving stones mimicking the dark sheen of canals--while I took these shots in and around San Giacomo dell'Orio. But the fog ended up spending no more time here than the 3 or 4 hours that about 75% of mass tourists do, and today was sunny, clear, and cold.

Friday, December 7, 2018

'Tis the Season...

Workers construct the ice skating rink in Campo San Polo last Friday, while, at left,  a small colony of orange plastic sea lions await their opportunity to aid the unsteady upon the ice

...to go ice skating in Campo San Polo. At least it will be beginning tomorrow.

Lacking much chance to practice, I suspect the vast majority of Venetians are no better at ice skating than they are at driving (at which they are reputed to be very bad indeed). But the absence of expertise never shows any sign of lessening anyone's enjoyment of the latter activity--and, unlike the former, almost never poses any danger to innocent bystanders or property.

The small rink will stay up through the end of Carnevale.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Off-Season Lunch, Sant'Erasmo, Today

On December 1 the summer crowds are a distant memory at Al Bacan Ristorante e Pizzeria on Sant'Erasmo, and it seems the frittura mista (just cuttlefish and prawns) and pizza taste better on a clear cold day than on all the hot ones. 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Local Color: The Regata delle 50 Caorline

The Regata Storica held at the end of each summer on the Grand Canal is the most famous rowing event in Venice, but it's just one of a series of regate--known in total as il circuito--which begins in the spring and runs almost to the end of November.

Last Sunday in the south lagoon behind the Giudecca, as part of the 20th Festa Grande de Sant'Andrea, was the last event of the circuito, and after what seemed like two weeks of uninterrupted gloom and drizzle (not unusual for November) it brought an abundance of welcome color to the lagoon.

It was also the first regata in which our 10-year-old son competed, in the Schìe (basically "waterbug") division. Having had but one day of practice with a new rowing partner, and rowing in the prua (prow) position instead of the poppa to which he was accustomed, he and his partner posed little threat to the eventual winners, but that was never really the point. It was his chance to get his feet wet (so to speak) in regate, and he enjoyed it thoroughly.

There were other races as well--such as the four-oar women's competition at top--but the highlight of the day was a final race of 50 six-rower caorline.

The most accomplished crews of Regatanti that started in the front of the pack competed fiercely along the whole 3.55 meter course and first place came down to a photo finish (as you can see in the third photo below). But the overall aim of the event was to close the season with a sense of community, in which rowers with differing degrees of expertise and competitive drive could share.

I learned it's really impossible to capture more than a small fraction of 50 caorline in one shot, but I hope these images provide some sense of the event.

The shirts of this crew basically declare (in Venetian): "We don't need gas, our turbo fuel tank is in our arms"

Although I couldn't tell who won from my vantage point, it turned out to be the crew in the black and white stripes

As the winners caught their breath a good part of the rest of the 50 caorline had yet to finish

A good number of spectators watched from their own boats (like these three, here chatting with someone on the flooded fondamenta before the races began)