Category Archives: About Venice

What is a calle, anyway?

Ciao Ciao Cacciari; Helloooo, Orsoni.

201003301703.jpgVenice chooses Giorgio Orsoni for its new mayor.

After the endless overdose of campaigning that has become the hallmark of any election, we are delighted to announce we have a winner. Or rather, some winners. Although the Lega Nord party did very well in a number of regions (including the Veneto) that held elections this weekend, it was center-left Democratic Party candidate and attorney Giorgio Orsoni who cruised to a comfortable victory over the center-right Roberto Brunetta to become the new mayor-elect of Venice. He won with 51.03% of the vote.

In fact, Lega Nord candidate for governor of the Veneto Region Luca Zaia had a very strong showing, winning with 60.2% of the vote — even though this popularity wasn’t enough to propel Brunetta, Zaia’s choice for Venice mayor, to a win.

I have a friend who has worked for Orsoni for almost thirty years; she thinks the world of him. What he can accomplish in the midst of a convoluted government with tanti interessi (many “interests”) no one yet knows. A little of that winning smile combined with an attorney temperament, it seems to me, might go a long way.

Sarà da vedere, we shall see!

Whack. (Or BOHM, maybe.)

arzana_battipali.jpg“So what’s a battipali,” you ask? “A human pile-driver,” might be the translated response.

Ever wonder how the piles that define Venetian parking places were once driven into the soft canal bed? (When you didn’t have the mechanized version handy, I mean.)

Easy: you found a big strong he-man, gave him an attrezzatura (implement) created just for such a task, and…

….WHACK. Fatto.

Keep in mind that that there are estimates of up to a million piles beneath the Salute, each one driven in place by a batipali.

I am sure these guys were all happy to see the hydraulic pile drive come along, but personally, I’m sorry I missed this. At least we have the enduring image).

Photo courtesy Arzanà.org

Floating Carnevale

Judging by the crowds that lined bridges as well as the number of participating boats and rowers, the Corteo Carnevale isbecoming almost as popular as the Vogalonga.

This costumed procession is held on the first weekend of the two-week long Carnevale, open to anyone and everyone that knows how to row Venetian-style and can get their hands on an oar. Costumes range from simple to ornate, sensational to silly (keep your eyes peeled for the peanut), handmade to half-baked. The procession winds its way up the Grand Canal from the Salute, and is followed by a festa in the Canale Cannaregio, with a flying rat, awards for best costume and a party running the length of the fondamenta.

For more superb photos of this spectacular event, visit

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Does the Venetian lagoon ever freeze?

In 1929, it did. How cold was it?

This cold. Walk-from-Fondamente-Nove-to-Murano cold.


1929 was a harsh winter for all of Europe…Venice included. A voga friend uploaded this archival video of Frozen Venice; they’d not experienced anything like it for over 100 years. (Check his YouTube site for more historic footage.)

Can you spot the vaporetto di una volta, from once upon a time?

After running a few errands and making it back inside just before my nose fell off, I’m still refusing to believe we’re gearing up for a similar experience this winter.

Speriamo bene (Hoping for the best)…

Peek inside Palazzo Dario

Palazza Dario - insideEveryone knows the exotic Palazzo Dario and the unhappy ends met by some of its owners, as endlessly recounted in guidebooks and Grand Canal tours. You may also have spotted the inscription on the garden wall in Campiello Barbaro behind it, installed there by one-time-owner and extensive renovator, the Contessa De La Baume-Pluvinel:

In questa casa antica dei Dario,
Henri de Régnier—
poeta di Francia—
venezianamente visse e scrisse—
anni 1899-1901.

“In this antique home of Dario,
Henri de Régnier — poet of France —
‘Venetianly’ lived and wrote —
from 1899-1901.”

You’ve probably only seen the inside, though, if you’ve inquired about purchasing it.

This Corbis gallery of photographs by Massimo Listri offers a rare look at the palazzo’s extraordinarily opulent interior. You can see how someone might be tempted to risk their fortune to live there.

Finally, for more background on this intriguing Palazzo, take a look at scholar Diana Wright’s notes.