Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Arrivederci Venezia

A few words to those of you reading this blog for the first time.  Its original purpose was to supply more
information to readers of my book The Door of Perarolo, published initially as a Kindle e-book in 2013.

Early posts provided historical information about real people and places that are described in The Door of Perarolo.  Since then, for most of the monthly posts of the last two years, starting with the post The Birth of the Piave, I have been writing about one thing:   the journey I made in the summer of 1998 from the source of the River Piave, all the way along the course of Italy's third largest river, to the south and Venice. 

The purpose of this journey was to research material for a series of historical novels (one already published, the others in preparation) relating to the zattieri di Codissago - the master raftsmen of the River Piave.  
Around midnight, each day, the zattieri would set off from Codissago to walk upriver, through the night, to Perarolo. There they would build the rafts that would be used to transport all manner of things downriver.  When the rafts reached Venice they were dismantled for their timber.

On the 6th September 1998, at the end of my journey, I had arrived in Venice, together with two Italian friends, Dario and Michele. It was Regatta Day (the Telegraph series of articles and pictures tell the story of the Regatta). That day was to be the last day of my stay in Italy, as I was due to catch a plane from Milan the next morning, heading back to my home in Scotland.  The images above of the Regatta in times past, near the Rialto bridge, were sent to me by Luigi Boatto.  But... the Regatta had been held for centuries before photography was invented!

The following is a quote from one of the Telegraph articles:

On the first Sunday of every September, hundreds of Venetians pile into the long boats that have plied the city's canals for centuries for the 'Regata Storica' (Historical Regatta), a historical procession that commemorates the welcome given to Caterina Cornaro, wife of the King of Cyprus, in 1489 after she renounced her throne in favour of Venice.

San Simeone Piccolo and the Ponte della Croce [Dorling Kindersley: VENICE pocket map and guide]

San Simeone Piccolo  [© P.A.G. 1998]
Dario, Michele and myself made our way back to the Santa Lucia railway station and strolled down the north bank of the Canal Grande, looking in passing at the lovely church of San Simeone Piccolo across the canal.
Boats of the Regatta passing the Ponte della Croce [© P.A.G. 1998]
The Regatta was now in full swing.  
To the right of the photo above is the Ponte della Croce, where the Rio Nuovo joins the Canal Grande.  

The Ponte della Croce [artist: Tonino Caputo] 

It is interesting to compare the photo with this painting by the famous Italian artist Tonino Caputo (b. 1933).

More boats passing the Ponte della Croce [© P.A.G. 1998]

Boats passed by going in all directions...

The Regatta is not just an all-male event...  [© P.A.G. 1998]

...crewed by both sexes...  

A boat from Caorle passing crowds on the steps (top, centre) of San Simeone Piccolo [© P.A.G. 1998]

.. arriving from all localities.  Caorle is a small port on the Adriatic coast to the north of Venice.

Not the size of the Bucintoro, but... [© P.A.G. 1998]

The last Doge, Manin, owned the most sumptuous vessel ever to sail these waters.  It was called the Bucintoro and was covered in a wealth of fine gold embellishments.   After the surrender of Venice to the French troops, Napoleon had it burnt in order to recover the precious metals and to show his domination over Venice.  Only the figurehead survived.

The same boat, viewed from the other side of the Ponte delgli Scalzi [© P.A.G. 1998]

Boats of all sizes came past, some large and impressive...

Not the largest, but they came from afar... [© P.A.G. 1998]

...others more modest.  All seemed to be having a great time...  

So many boats to photograph... [© P.A.G. 1998]

I spent much time and several rolls of film on the Ponte degli Scalzi snapping as many photos as I could - far too many to include in this post.  

Dario, as the lone cyclist of Venice  [© P.A.G. 1998]

Then it was time to go to the station and rescue Una, my trusty folding bicycle, from the station locker.  

Michele goes for speed  [© P.A.G. 1998]
We decided, as she had been ridden all the way from Monte Peralba to Venice, that we could let her have a spin around the station forecourt.

Dario looked very pleased, as well he might - there weren't any other cyclists in Venice!  In the backbround you can see the Ponte degli Salszi and the dome of San Geremia.

Michele went for speed!  No one seemed to mind our exploits, though most people looked puzzled!

I look puzzled myself in the photo below - I was probably wondering where I was going to sleep and eat that night when I arrived in Verona - one of my favourite Italian cities.  

My aim was to rise early in Verona the next morning and catch the train to Milan, and thence to the airport.  I didn't want to spend my last evening in Milan, which most definitely isn't on my list of favourites!

Me, looking puzzled  [© P.A.G. 1998]

So I said  thank you and goodbye to my dear friends Michele and Dario, folded up Una, put her in her sacco, said arrivederci to Venice and made my way to the train.  

It wasn't expensive to travel by train in Italy in 1998!  [© P.A.G. 1998]

I was sad to  be leaving Venice, but boarding the train for Verona was a good feeling.

Note: This blog supports readers of The Door of Perarolo, a historical novel set in Cadore, Italy in the early nineteenth century.  You can examine feedback from readers in the UK here and in the US here.  The Door of Perarolo is a Kindle ebook comprising 140 relatively short chapters - good for bedtime reading!  It can be downloaded from Amazon sites worldwide. The launch post of this blog gives further details.  The second post provides links to maps, etc.

If you'd like to track these blog posts, you can follow me, Peter Alexander Gray, on Facebook.

NEW: I have now added a total of five maps to the Kindle version of The Door of Perarolo.

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