Monday, May 16, 2016
The Colors, and Some Curiosities, of the 42nd Vogalonga
This being Italy, it's not surprising that more than a few participants in the Vogolonga should concern themselves with making an impression, or cutting a bella figura--or, often enough, in truth, a gaudy or intentionally humorous one. But this year no one pulled it off quite so well as the crew of six rowers from the Canottieri Treporti (seen above and below), with their all white outfits, pale yellow scarves, beautiful flower-laden boat, and onboard pianist.
If you look closely at the image above, though, you'll see that their boat also carried fresh strawberries and artichokes just behind its prow, and on the upright above them, a bunch of radishes (all representative, I suspect, of Treporti's agricultural abundance).
But one of my favorite details of this boat overflowing with panache can be seen in the image below: that cigar in the mouth of the rower just in front of the piano.
Otherwise, this year's Vogalonga featured its usual variety of oar-powered watercraft of both Venetian and foreign origins, as you can see in the three images below.
Though you don't often see the large old work boat--half the size of a contemporary mototopo--being rowed in the third image below by the Associazione Culturale Galleggiante "Il Caicio" (a local group devoted to promoting and reinvigorating water-borne local traditions, as well as restoring the boats traditionally used in them: http://www.ilcaicio.it).
Along with never having seen a piano and its player in a traditional Venetian-style boat setting out on the 32-km-long route, I'd also never seen a participants' boat without oars, like the one below. The Vogalonga is often described as a "celebration of the oar"--and, in fact, the regulations state that "rowing crafts of any weight and size can take part in the race." But the two guys in the peddle boat seem not to have gotten that message.
Nor had I ever before seen a--well, whatever it is that appears in the images below. But there were three of them in the Vogalonga this year so it must be great fun if you know how to do it.
It did not, however, look like great fun. It looked about as pleasant as going for a hike in the Sahara wearing snow skis. Or trying to escape from an expanse of quicksand with each of your feet stuck in a large plastic bucket. It was as if all the pleasant, graceful rhythmic glide of nordic skiing and kayaking, all the deft, swift sweep of water- and snow-skiing were utterly removed, and you were left--for 32 very long km--to the clumsy ineffectual effort common to the rank beginner in any one of those four sports, but all rolled into one cruel form of mockery.
And, finally, a few more images of some boats not native to the lagoon but, in at least a couple of cases, common enough here year round.