Monday, January 30, 2006

Speaking of Carnival--Guess Which One is the Oldest?

Which carnival is the oldest? Gee, if you guessed "Venice," you'd be right. I found this on the website of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

"...Venice claims to have the oldest carnival tradition, with laws establishing the holiday dating back to the 13th century. This year, the Venice carnival -- known for elaborate masks and costumes -- takes place Feb. 17-28. Events include masked balls, music and dance performances, gondola parades, formal dinners and children's celebrations."

Too bad they don't have a theme!

Too Many Choices Today...

I couldn't decide which of these stories to post today, so I'm posting all of them.

The first is from the AP wire. It's not strictly Venice, but too weird to ignore:
From the AP newswire: "Premier Silvio Berlusconi has promised Italians he would lower taxes and raise pensions. His latest campaign pledge is rather personal: no sex until April 9 elections, an Italian newspaper reported Sunday.

"Il Giornale, a conservative Milan daily owned by Paolo Berlusconi, the premier's brother, reported that the no-sex vow was made during a campaign rally in Cagliari, Sardinia, on Saturday with a popular TV preacher on the island and his followers."

Second: What if they gave a Carnival, but didn't have a theme. Venice's famous (in-famous?) Carnival starts on Feb. 18 and runs until the 20th. Even though Carnival brings in lots of tourists (and their money), they don't have anything planned! Acording to Buongiorno Venezia, "'The fact that there is, as yet, no programme just a few days from its opening is an embarrassing fact,' Renato Morandina, the president of APT (Tourism Promotion Agency), said. 'In a normal situation, we'd be ready to programme the 2007 edition.' The last agreements with one of the sponsors are expected to conclude in a few days, just before the start of the festival."

Here's a link to the Carnival of Venice website if you want to follow the lack of progress.

A few years ago, I went to Venice to "experience" a Carnival. I was sorry I went. Too many people. Too many drunks--noisy drunks. Too many over-crowded restaurants serving mediocre food. My Venetian friends warned me not to visit during Carnival--I wish I had listened to their advice.

Finally, more on Brad Pitt and Tom Hanks starring as glassblowers. The movie is going to be called, "The Man Who Invented the Mirror" and it will be directed by an Italian director, Carlo Carlei. Filming is supposed to start in "late spring." I'll be back in Venice in March--maybe I'll be able to spot Brad Pitt!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Sinking City?

What's the most frequent comment I hear about Venice: Isn't it sinking? Find out for yourself. Visit PBS, Sinking City of Venice to find out for yourself. (Did you notice that I finally figured out how to put links into my posts? Congratulations to me!!!!)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Ice on the Canals

Venice, like the rest of Europe, is FREEZING. Check out Nan's blog, Living Venice, for some photos and description of what it's like.

Brad Pitt to Blow Glass in Film?

This may be too weird for Weird Venice, but... Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, and Peter O'Toole may be starring in a film about Venetian glassmakers. Here's the story from

Hollywood star is among names considered for new film (ANSA) - Rome, January 25 - Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Peter O'Toole could take roles as Venetian glass craftsmen in an American movie to be filmed in the famous lagoon city at the end of the spring.

"Cruise, Pitt and O'Toole are among the actors being considered for the leading roles," said Italian actor Angelo Infanti, who already has a part in the film.

The US-produced film, called 'The Man Who Invented the Mirror', will be directed by Italy's Carlo Carlei, who is famous in his native country for a 2003 film about Enzo Ferrari, the founder of the sportscar company.

Virtually nothing is known about the film's plot, although 66-year-old Infanti, who had small roles in the Godfather films, said it told a "fascinating story".

Venice has been famous for centuries for its glass craftsmen and, in particular, its glassblowers, who have traditionally had workshops on the island of Murano. This meant it was harder for artisans from elsewhere to steal their secrets and techniques.

During the 15th century Venetian craftsman invented the first clear glass, called 'cristallo'.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Delta is Trying to Make It Easier to Get to Venice From the South

Delta has decided to make it easier for southens to get to Venice. Sometime in the spring or summer, Delta will start non-stop service to Venice (subject to "foreign government approval"). That's really good news! When I go to Venice, I take Delta's non-stop flight from JFK to Venice. I'm sure those near Atlanta will appreciate this new flight.
From its largest hub and gateway to the world, Atlanta, Delta will boost its trans-Atlantic growth this spring and summer with new non-stop service to Athens, Greece; Copenhagen, Denmark; Dusseldorf, Germany; Edinburgh, Scotland; Nice, France; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Venice, Italy (subject to foreign government approvals).

Webcams Are Back!

On December 17, 2005 hackers attacked the official website of the commune of Venice and the site shut down--taking away five great webcams! When I checked this morning, I was happy to see that some of them are back in action. You can find the webcams at:

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Photo of the Olympic Flame on the Grand Canal

Thanks to RaleighRob for sending this link to a NY Times photo of the torch on the Grand Canal. It's at: Sorry for not making the link work--one of these days I'll figure out how to do it!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Olympic Flame Floats Through Venice

From the Associated Press:

VENICE, Italy - A ride in a gondola up the famed Grand Canal helped torchbearers of the Turin Olympics avoid protesters Tuesday.

A small group protesting a plan to save the sinking city from high tides was held back by police as the flame entered Venice.

Twelve gondolas were provided for 12 torchbearers, including track athlete Manuela Levorato and 1960 Olympic heavyweight boxing champion Francesco De Piccoli.

Cousins Igor and Rudi Vignotto, perennial winners of the city's historic gondola races, received the biggest cheers from the thousands of spectators lining the Grand Canal. Chinese figure skater Chen Lu, a bronze medalist at the 1994 Lillehammer and 1998 Nagano Games, was among the torchbearers on the streets.

The day's relay ended with the lighting of a cauldron in Piazza San Marco.

Alex Zanardi, the former Formula One driver and two-time CART champion, carried the torch earlier in the day in Padua. Zanardi lost both legs in a collision during a CART race in 2001 and has two prosthetic legs.

Zanardi walked with a crutch under one arm while holding the torch aloft with his other arm.

The flame is to arrive in Turin on Feb. 10 for the opening ceremony.

I wish I'd been able to see the flame go by. Do we have any eyewitnesses out there? Send us your photos!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Tourists Terrozied by Motorcyclist

this is too weird.... From news:

Venice shaken by 'mad biker'
Tourists flee as motocross rider jumps bridges (ANSA) - Venice, January 10 -

Police on Tuesday nabbed what at first appeared to be a crazed motorcyclist who had been terrorising residents and tourists by racing through the lagoon city's historic center.

The switchboard operator at police headquarters reportedly thought she was the target of a prank when calls came in complaining about a man racing his hot new motocross bike down Venice's narrow streets, across its picturesque bridges and along the canals, past slow-moving gondolas.

The wild ride finally came to an end near the university when police arrested the rider of a Yamaha 250cc with an American flag flying from its back mudguard.

The rider was later identified as 47-year-old E.D. from Santa Maria La Longa, near Udine. He reportedly told police that he bought the bike the day before.

Although the rider gave no impression of being unstable or dangerous, police are said to be making calls to see whether he is under treatment at any mental facility in the area.

Several months ago two French tourists were arrested for joy-riding their motorbikes through Venice.

© Copyright ANSA. All rights reserved

Did he have to be flying an American flag from the rear bumper? It's going to start a series of "ugly American" tourist stories!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Honeymoon Happenings

From Liz Smith's column in the NY Post: "THE VENETIAN honeymoon of Elton John and David Furnish has been blissfully extended. They are enjoying the romantic canals and gondolas and staying at the Hotel Danieli. (Newlyweds love the sexy mystery of Venice!) It is reported the happy couple were spotted at Harry's Bar with their dog, Arthur. A waiter tied a napkin around Arthur's neck, and he was allowed to eat at the table."