Last year, the Piazza for New Year’s was a bit triste. There was no live band, no fireworks, and the big event was kissing at midnight — something which from my experience pretty much happens anyway. Even though they had promised fireworks this year, with as cold as it has been recently, I had no desire to gelare il culo hanging around the square hoping for a more lavish celebration.
After a wonderful in-home New Year’s Eve dinner with friends however, the out-of-town contingency convinced us to meander to the center just in case the Comune decided to out-do itself. We conceded, and the choice turned out to be ideal.
As we exited the apartment, you could hear the light rain tick-tick-ticking on our outerwear, making its first spitty attempt at snow. “It’s not snowing.” “Sì, che nevica.” “No, piove,” it’s raining. By the time we reached Campo San Margherita, there was no more argument. They were real flakes, and numerosi, and we rejoiced that we without a doubt would be having a white New Year.
As we shuffled and sauntered toward the center, marveling at our good fortune, we realized we’d never make it to San Marco, or even San Giglio before midnight, and so we instead decided to camp out the Ponte Accademia, arriving just a few minutes before midnight. There were other folks who’d had the same idea, although the crowd was not at all massive or at all unruly.
When the clock struck midnight, we, along with everyone else on the bridge, ci siamo baciati ed augurati tutti. We popped the prosecco, toasting ourselves and everyone else in the world, then turned toward the Salute in anticipation of the fireworks.
Nothing. We kept hearing pop-pop, pop-pop-pop in indeterminate directions, and there were some Roman candles lighting up an altana somewhere above the Ca’ Rezzonico, but other than that, niente. “They won’t light them in the snow, maybe,” somebody wondered. We were still marveling at the size and frequency of the flakes that were floating and now coating surfaces in earnest, and frankly, it was still pretty magical. Then, suddenly, a big BOME whipped us around in unison toward the lower canal, where a flower of light unfurled above the bacino, soaring from the campanile to the Punto della dogana. By golly, they’ve pulled it off. Flakes and fireworks for capodanno a Venezia.
The onlookers cheered and applauded, oohed and ahhhed, as the spettacolo continued for 10? 15? 20 minutes? I’m not sure. But they were mesmerizing, a magnified, multicolored mirror of the bollicine that continued to swirl on the surface of my prosecco, intermittently illuminating the famous palazzo-lined Canal.
My mistake was not taking my camera, so these are only cellphone photos. Hopefully, though, they are clear enough to help me wish everyone a New Year as luminous and expansive as the fuochi over the Grand Canal.