Category Archives: Imagining Venice

Vela al Terzo: centuries of sailing the Venetian lagoon

Unless you’re an avid sailing enthusiast, you’ve probably never noticed that the colorful canvases tilting into the summer wind as they criss-cross the Venetian lagoon aren’t shaped like sails you’d see elsewhere (…what a surprise). Look closely – they’re not triangular, not trapezoidal, and not rhombus shaped, but a odd quadrilateral with four unequal sides suspended from a mast one-third of the way up from the shortest one — thus the name: Vela al terzo.

And this is how they look when there’s a traditional caorlina underneath, participating in a local regata. The caorlina is one maintained by the Associazione Arzanà. If you look closely, you’ll see that the masts and rigging are as traditional as the craft itself.

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Venice Redentore 2010: a one-night, in-town getaway

The Comune estimated that there were over 110,000 visitors a Venezia for the Festa della Rendentore, most of them no doubt expecting to swelter in the oppressive heat that’s turned the city into sauna in recent weeks. A temporale, or intense storm, was predicted for about 11 p.m., just a half-hour before the half-hour long fireworks display was to begin; as disruptive as it would have been, if it in the end had provided any heat-relief I don’t think anyone would have complained.

It turned out to be nothing of the sort. As we were hanging the last of the vibrant lampioni (decorative lanterns) on our battela in Canal Grande, a not terribly ominous layer of cloud cover swirled overhead, providing a welcome shield from the afternoon sun. When it moved on — we could breathe again. Oxygen. Dryer air. Fewer gradi. Ready for the Redentore.

After a particularly taxing trip navigating the Grand Canal among boats of every shape and size, each filled to the brim with revelers, we rounded the Punta della Dogana and moored in the space reserved only for craft arriving by oar. Behind us, strewn along the fondamenta of the recently-renovated Punta della Dogana, a private dinner party with live music (American pop standards) was already in full swing. There will be many other nights like this, and I’ll be standing here with someone new…

After lots of food, traditional and otherwise, and even more chatting and general reveling, in our own boat and among the others surrounding us, it was finally time for the big show…sans temporale, fortunately.

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(You can find larger versions of these photos on the Facebook page gallery.)