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La Festa dei Veneziani

The Venetian carnival has just started, and one of the first events is the Festa dei Veneziani, which more or less implies that the rest of the carnival is not for or of the Venetians, which is also entirely true.

The first part of this feast is a procession of Venetian rowing boats through most of the Canal Grande, and we went to have a look. Of course, we should have gone there rowing, but it didn’t really work out at the practical level, so we went by foot to look and take some photos.

Here are some of the photos from the actual procession.

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Venetian rowing in the 18th century

Antonio Vivaldi, the composer from the 18th century who wrote The Four Seasons, also wrote operas to be performed in Venetian theatres. They were rather modern for their time, and one of Vivaldi’s critics published a pamphlet against him, called “Il teatro alla moda“, which has an interesting incision on the cover.

It shows a small Venetian boat with a man rowing alla valesana. The rower is not a poor man, but dressed according to the fashion of the time.

What I find particularly interesting here, is that it shows that for a respectable and prosperous man, rowing around the city of Venice was as natural as riding a horse anywhere else.

Videos on Facebook

Post a video on Facebook with some music in it, and they’ll remove it due to “Intellectual Property” concerns.

I’ve found some classical music that’s free to use in videos, actively put in the Public Domain by the artists, and Facebook will complain anyway. There’s even a not so subtle threat in there:


We have removed your video entitled "Martina che voga nell'Arsenale" uploaded at 4:21am January 27th, 2014. This video may include copyrighted material (such as a clip or audio) that you do not have the right to share.

If you think your video should not have been removed because:
(1) you are the copyright owner, or
(2) you have permission from the copyright owner to upload and distribute this material on Facebook or
(3) you otherwise believe you are legally entitled to upload and distribute this material on Facebook

you may visit the link below to video an appeal requesting that it be reinstated: http://www.facebook.com/legal/video_copyright.php?video_id=10202211297776290

If you do not want to appeal, there is no need to take any action. Please be careful about videos you upload in the future. If they are identified as possibly containing copyright infringing material, they may also be removed. This could result in us temporarily or permanently blocking your ability to upload videos, or permanently disabling your account.

For more information about copyright and other intellectual property matters concerning content uploaded to Facebook, please visit the Intellectual Property section of our Help Center: http://www.facebook.com/help/intellectual_property

The Facebook team

The music I used was a recording of the Sonata no. 8 by Beethoven, performed by Daniel Veesey who has placed it under a Creative Commons public domain license.

The video is also here if anybody cares.

A day a-rowing

Last year we bought a small Venetian rowing boat, a s-ciopon, which is one of the smallest traditional Venetian boats.

Usually I just fool around in the lagoon near the Certosa island, but yesterday I took it to Venice.

I rowed over to the bus terminal at Piazzale Roma to pick up Martina at 19.30 as she was coming back from work, and the with her back home.

It was a beautiful tour through the dark deserted canals, and the photos below don’t do it justice, but its what I’ve got.

The first photos are taken by myself, rowing with one hand and taking photos with the other. The photos taken after dark are taken by Martina when I’m rowing.


Voga - Campo Santa Ternita - stupid taxi

Voga - Arrival at S.S. Giovanni e Paolo

Voga - Rowing the in dark canals

Voga - Rowing in the dark canals

Voga - Rowing with Stella in the dark canals

Voga - Rowing the dark canals

Voga - The Canal Grande after dark

January paddle

Venice Kayak doesn’t really do many tours in the winter, but we’ve had a few in the last few weeks.

Yesterday’s paddle was on a foggy day, postponed from the day before which was even foggier, so we ended up doing a rather different tour as we couldn’t do some of the open water passages that we otherwise do.

January 6th, Epiphany, is called the Befana here. She’s an old witch who’ll bring gifts to the good children and charcoal to the naughty ones. We spotted her flying over Rio San Giuseppe.

La befana in Rio San Giuseppe

Here we’re in the Bacino San Marco, with the island San Giorgio Maggiore in the background to the left, and you can just glimpse San Marco and the campanile in front of the kayaks.


Rio dei Greci boasts one the leaning towers of Venice. We hardly ever go there as the canal is badly infested by taxis, but there were few yesterday.

Rio dei Greci

The Rio della Canonica, or the Rio di Palazzo, which is just behind the Palazzo Ducale, usually suffers from gondola congestion, but that too was rather quiet yesterday, so we had a chance to paddle under the Bridge of Sighs and even get a few photos.

Under the Bridge of Sighs

Our guide Loretta never loses an opportunity to race a gondola in front of San Marco.

Loretta overtaking a gondola at San Marco

I don’t race much. I’m too slow, so I just enjoy the view.

In front of San Marco

Dodging a few airport shuttles we reach the lower Canal Grande.

At the end of the Canal Grande with the Punta della Dogana

And the Madonna della Salute (there’s supposed to be 1,1 mio tree trunks underneath the foundations).

On the Grand Canal with Madonna della Salute

Here we’re further up the Canal Grande, at the beautiful gothic  Palazzo Bernardo from the  15th century.

On the Canal Grande

And in the narrow Rio della Madoneta.

Rio della Madoneta

There was very little traffic in the city, so we only met the occasional gondola on the tour.

Gondola up close

Here we’re in the Rio de la Panada, passing the late 14th century Palazzo Van Axel.

Rio della Panada, Palazzo Van Axel

Passing under the low bridge in front of the monumental entrance to the Arsenale (the ancient Venetian navy docks) is always good fun, but the tide was rather low.

Passing the bridge at the Arsenale

Loretta made it too.

Loretta at the Arsenale gate

The Rio de l’Arsenal is always good a few photos. They sure knew how to make monuments back in those days.

Rio de l'Arsenal

Our guide Loretta kept creeping up in front of the camera.

Loretta in the Rio de l'Arsenal

And again. Here entering the Bacino San Marco, still with a good deal of fog.

Loretta in Bacino San Marco foggy

We continued around the Arsenale with its imposing walls. Close to the eastern end of the Arsenale  there’s an old altar in the wall.

Altare in Rio delle Vergine

The church of San Pietro di Castello is the former cathedral of Venice, with the old residence of the patriarch to the right. Here too is one of the learning towers of Venice.

Loretta at San Pietro de Castello

While we cannot enter the Arsenale from the monumental gate, it is easy to paddle in from the Porta da mar, the gate to the sea, with the huge old mast crane.

Entering the Arsenale

The area here is the darsena grande and its where the Serenissima build and maintained the navy the ruled the eastern Mediterranean for centuries.

Inside the Arsenale, darsena grande

The galleandre are covered areas where they could work on the innards of the ships once the hull was floating but for the rigging was mounted.

René inside the Arsenale

The tese were covered areas used for laying up the keel and building the hulls of the ships. Now most are used by companies taking part in the building of the flood gates which should protect the city from excessive flooding (but not from rampant corruption).

René inside the Arsenale

Along the sides of the Arsenale you can still see the rings used to mooring the ships during the different phases of construction.

Lion of San Marco, Arsenale

Leaving the Arsenale through the gate to the sea.

Bacino San Marco on a foggy day

Our base on the Certosa island is under the fog just in front of the paddlers.