Noilly Prattle: Regatta row (or ... a whack on the knuckles)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Regatta row (or ... a whack on the knuckles)


Start of Regatta Storica boat procession

   Today, Sunday, was the day of Venice's big waterborne event known as the Regatta Storica (Historical Regatta). It opens with a procession of vintage boats from the heyday of the Venetian Republic all propelled, of course, by oars much as the ubiquitous gondolas are still moved and maneuvered around Venice's extensive canal network today, and by people decked out in period costumes riding on the boats.

old gondoliers never die,
 they just sing away
no motorcycle cops around here
         Being in Venice at this time, the colorful event is not to be missed and we discussed where the best place for viewing the event (without paying for grandstand seats) would be. We thought the Accademia bridge might be a good spot, but I argued that everybody else would think so, too. We also thought that the stone steps in front of Santa Maria de la Salute church would be an excellent spot to view the start of the pageant that begins in the canal in front of the Doge's Palace and St. Marc's Square. To get to the church required walking around to the Accademia bridge and crossing it and doubling back on the Dorsoduro side of the Grand Canal.

no fire trucks either
        We crossed the bridge early on the way to have lunch in Campo San Barnaba (made famous as the place where Katherine Hepburn falls into the canal in David Lean's film Summertime). The Accademia bridge was getting pretty crowded when, after lunch, we were heading for la Salute church. The stone steps there were already more than half taken by people waiting for the pageant to begin. We were able to stake out some fairly good spots at the top of the steps and sat down to await the start—still a good hour away—while more and more people began to arrive.

a few of the nuns
        Among these later arrivals was a group on nuns carrying chairs. At first they were behind a couple rows of people sitting and standing behind us. Little by little they pushed their way forward forcing people to move aside and make way until they arrived directly behind us when a couple of them tapped us on the shoulder indicating that they wanted us to move out of their way as well so they could get better ringside seats. I guess being nuns, they thought they would be automatically deferred to, but we only moved a little and apparently were still blocking their unobstructed line of sight. I could sense their annoyance but had no intention of giving up my view of the parade after waiting over an hour, when it got underway . . .

the lead boat in the pageant, presumably the Doge's boat

fantastic bow ornamentation

period costumes aboard the boats


lady gondolier? - a rare sight
            The parade continued to pass along the canal, vibrant with color and music and we were thoroughly enjoying the show—almost until the end—when a couple (a man and a woman) began berating us for standing and blocking the view of the holy nuns. 

the blonde who couldn't
mind her own business (in green)
        That ended my equanimity and I got into an argument with this couple, flatly refusing to move when actually “ordered” to sit down by the female half of this dynamite duo because the saintly nuns couldn't see. Why not just wave a red flag in my face? My counter argument was that we had arrived long before these sisters passive-aggressively forced other people to move while they comfortably ensconced themselves into their chairs and, furthermore, if I sat down “I” wouldn't be able to see. The lady got very huffy and tossed her bleached curls when she understood that I was stubbornly not going to comply with her demands, but she finally shut up.

overcrowded Accademia bridge
Dorsoduro side
the other side
        The pageant being over, we soon left the arena to the other combatants. We had no choice but to return by the Accademia bridge since all water traffic had been suppressed for the regatta and we couldn't take a traghetto (ferry gondola) across the canal. The bridge was horrendous—like rush hour on a Los Angeles freeway—a crush of people inching their way across. It took half an hour to get to the other side.
       All in all, a really satisfying day—no irony intended.

No comments: