What comes in, must go out--and sometimes it really goes out.
Located just a few meters north of Piazza San Marco, this basin is usually one of the busiest gondola departure points in the city. This evening it was just a deserted puddle.
|As always, the giant rat leads the way|
|A vaporetto crew resorts to oars for one day only|
|I'm pretty sure that the man dressed as a baker up front really is a baker--I've seem him teach a kids' workshop on bread-making. But I doubt that the person dressed as a plague doctor behind him actually practices that profession.|
|What would the Carnevale season be without its pastries?|
|Taking to the air on water|
|Lodge on the Grand Canal and you can watch the opening parade in your pajamas, as above. A waggish fully-costumed rower participating in the corteo shouted his compliments up to this woman for her own choice of costume.|
|A vaporetto tilts rather alarmingly as its passengers press to one side to see the passing corteo|
|Rowers in this caorlina are dressed as the water gates of the MOSE barrier system, but to truly represent that project they would have had to somehow flounder incompetently in place while simultaneously robbing everyone around them.|
|Speaking of crowds...|
|A glimpse of the water parade|
It had been decided beforehand that no more than 20,000 would be allowed access to the area, with everyone required to show photo-ID. The show was due to start at 6pm; by 5.20pm that number had already been exceeded. There were far more people outside the privileged zone than there were inside and the narrow street between the station and the Canal was soon jammed solid. (Please click here to read his full account.)But the overcrowding of tonight's parade is just another example of the overcrowding to which much of the historic center is subject during Carnevale. An owner of one of the few shops on the Ruga Rialto that sells anything residents might actually need, told me last year that on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, as well as special days like Fat Tuesday, the calle was so crowded as to make it hard to pass from one side to the other. (Though, alas, all that foot traffic didn't translate into increased sales for him.)
|If you're a people person--specifically of the sort who loves to find yourself trapped blindly in densely-packed crowds--you would have loved tonight's festivities.|
|A detail of pattern in the terrazzo floor of our rented apartment|
From the fifteenth century onwards, pastellon* was largely superceded by a more decorative version called terrazzo. In living apartments this surface, like pastellon, was laid on top of the boards covering the ceiling of the floor below. It was made up to two layers of crushed brick and stone set in lime mortar, each layer well beaten down with battering rams for several days. Several months had to elapse between the laying of the two layers. The top layer also contained ships of coloured marble, so that when it was smoothed off with millstones and oiled with linseed oil the effect was like a random mosaic. As in the case of pastellon, the lime base and tiny stones gave a certain elasticity to the floor surface, so that it could resist minor stresses and strains without cracking. If cracks did appear, it was a fairly simple matter to lay another thin layer of terrazzo on top. According to Francesco Sansovino, terrazzo floors were so highly polished that one could see one's own reflection in them, and carpets were even put down to prevent footprints marking the floors. (pp 61-62, italics added).I think of those several days spent pulverizing each layer of the terrazzo with battering rams more than 250 years ago as I clean it with my sponge. I wonder who made up the crew that did the work. Were they from long-time Venetian families? From the more recent (at least "recent" in the context of Venice's long history) influx of immigrants from the eastern shore of the Adriatic which the city recruited after devastating periods of plague? Or were they more freshly arrived in the city? Did they tend to be young or old? Are any of their descendants still living in this area, if not the city itself (as so few people live in the city itself nowadays)? Do they have any living descendants anywhere at all?
|Ca' d'Oro, at right, saturated by yesterday's rainfall|
|Above and below: the rowers didn't lack for company as they raced|
|Witches, witches everywhere! Local rowing clubs transformed themselves into covens to participate in the pre- and post-regata festivities|
|Campo Erberia is covered in water, adorned with architecture and sky|
|During acqua alta the Grand Canal extends itself along Fondamenta Vin Castello (seen above) to the church of San Giacomo di Rialto|