Friday, May 9, 2014

Festa di Primavera Tomorrow in Garden of ex-Ospedale Umberto I

The preschool Pan di Zenzero occupies part of the building at left; services for adults who are known in Italian as i diversabili (the differently-abled) are in the building at right

Festivities begin at noon tomorrow & go till 7 pm
If you happen to be in Venice now, tomorrow (Saturday, 10 May) is your chance not only to get to see the enclosed overgrown giardino on the edge of the lagoon toward the western end of Cannaregio within the complex of buildings that once made up Ospedale Umberto I, but, more importantly, to do much much more besides. It's the annual Festa di Primavera of Pan di Zenzero, un asilo steinriano, or what would be known as a Waldorf kindergarten in the US, which follows the early education model first proposed by Rudolf Steiner.

The festa will feature games and workshops and theater for kids, food and beverages and music and hand-made objects for all ages, the most affordable rides in a gondola you'll find anywhere in the city, and, in addition to la pesca delle sorprese (or fishing for surprises) for kids, the chance for adults to snag their own larger prizes. Last year, for example, one lucky couple won free lodging in a private vacation house in Sardegna.

The closest vaporetto stop is Sant' Alvise, and the gated entrance to the giardino lies a few minutes' walk west of the church of Sant' Alvise, along the same fondamenta. Devoted to various community services and programs, the ex-ospedale is not typically open to residents not partaking of or participating in such programs or to tourists.

Foreground: the floral centerpiece of a vegetable garden created and maintained by both the school and larger community

In another part of the giardino, an abandoned concrete bunker lies in the shade of the trees behind the commemorative bust, at the edge of the lagoon.  
What would Venice be without fishing? In this case (taken at last year's festa) for kids' gifts.

A real baker leads a bread-making workshop at last year's festa
Il giardino in early April

It's doubtful anyone ever compared Umberto I to a rose

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