The ancient rite of Dionysus clamorously concluded with the murder of a live bull. The female followers of Dionysus, inflamed by music and dance and (depending on whom you believe) certain intoxicants and/or the presence of the god himself, would reach such a state of ecstasy that they would, with their bare hands, tear a bull to pieces. That famous resident of San Michele here in Venice, Stravinsky, had something like this in mind when he composed his Rite of Spring. A version of the rite also appears at the end of Apocalypse Now.
The destruction of a bull in the wee hours of this morning to mark the end of Carnevale was not quite so dramatic as this, but it was certainly a great spectacle.
You can find close-up photos of the bull and a description of what he was made of at the excellent Venetian blog Hello World:
As the gondolieri began to reach the basin of San Marco at the end of their annual Vogata del Silenzio down the Grand Canal, the bull, floating on a raft in the basin, was put to the torch. It was about 12:30 am. The large crowd on the molo had begun forming just after 11 pm. I'd arrived at 11:15. It was worth the wait. There's something peculiarly satisfying about concluding a festival with fire; last year they simply set loose a raft-load of helium balloons as the gondolas arrived at San Marco. Here's hoping that, as the old gospel song puts it, it's the fire next time--or next year--as well.
An effigy of a cruise ship might be rather fun to see go up in flames...
|The Venice FD gets in a little practice|
|Time to pack up the wine fountain: after the immolation, peace returns to the Piazzetta.|