Monday, February 27, 2006

Check Out the Carnavale

I don't know if they call it "Fat Tuesday" in Venice, but it's the last day of Carnavale. Lent arrives on Wednesday, so it's time to party. Check out this webcam to see what's going on in San Marco. The image is small, but it's fun to watch.

If you can't get to Venice in time, this site has some great photos of past carnivals.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Pickpockets Beware!

Venice is a great place to work--if you're a pickpocketer. It's the perfect environment: Crowded vaporetti. Crowded calles. Tourists overcome by the splendor of Venice--and not paying attention to the hand slipping into a purse, pocket, or backpack.

But now, according to an article in Slate, Venetians are fighting back. "A civilian antipickpocket patrol called Cittadini Non Distratti, or Undistracted Citizens. Members, who call themselves 'Citizens,' walk around Venice looking for pickpockets."

The "Citizens" or "Guardian Angels of Tourists" pay a small fee for membership in Cittadini Non Distratti and won't let the papers photograph them, so the pickpocketers don't recognize them. (The pickpocketers say they do recognize them.) Is it working? The region's chief justice thinks it is.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

City of Falling Angels NOT a Hit in Venice

The New York Times has an interesting article about John Berendt's book, THE CITY OF FALLING ANGELS. A follow-up to Berendt's wildly success MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL, it's set in Venice and is supposed to be the story of tracking down the arsonists responsible for the destructive fire at La Fenice in 1996.

According to the article, Venice is not amused by the book. "He took the fire, an event that was critical for the city, and told it from a narrow point of view," Mr. Chiarot [the director of marketing and communications for La Fenice] said. "It was a serious story and he reduced it to gossip."

I have mixed feelings about the book. In the end, its seems that Berendt was more interested in collecting a bunch of weird characters," then he was in investigating the La Fenice fire. That said, I want to end with a quote from the book. It's my favorite part:

"I don’t know why Americans can’t come to Venice and just have a good time, instead of coming here and beating their breasts. You know what I mean? It’s this thing of having to come here on a mission. Why must they come to Venice to save it? It’s nice, of course, the money they give. But it doesn’t have anything to do with generosity. It means they want to look important. And, really, it’s just a drop in the ocean. They should come and have a good time. Period. Right? Walk around. See some paintings. Go to some restaurants, like they do in other cities. Americans don’t go to Paris to save Paris, do they? Right? When you see a five-hundred-year-old Venetian building, it may be a bit shabby and possibly even in danger. But you can’t describe it as ‘decaying.’ It has endured five hundred years! The ‘decaying Venice’ is all a big myth. That’s what I mean about Save Venice. Forget it. Venice will save itself. Go save Paris!" (From THE CITY OF FALLING ANGELS, by John Berendt, The Penguin Press, 2005, pg. 328-329)

Countdown to the Carnival

Three days until Venice's Carnival (Feb. 18-28). I went to Venice a few years ago to witness the great party for myself and I have to admit that I was not impressed. Too many drunken people screaming and shouting until dawn--and doing it too close to my bedroom window! Too many crowds in the restaurants (and a lof of mediocore food in usually reliable restaurants). As a Venetian friend said, "I told you not to come for Carnival."

However, don't let me stop you! Here's a link to a day-by-day program of events. This is what the introduction to the website says:

"A rich programme of events for this year's Carnival--here divided day-by-day--starting with traditional happenings such as 'The Flight of the Angel' and the 'Feast of the Marie,' and with new ones, such as Maurizio Scaparro's Carnival of Theatre, with performances dedicated to the Chinese cuture and art ('The Dragon and the Lion'), and a line up of shows for children within 'The Unforbidden City'. Young people will gather in the area of Rialto, in Santa Margherita Square and in the Maritime Station, with music and entertainments. Beyond the historical centre, Piazza Ferretto in Mestre will host music and entertainments for young people and children, and city theatres will stage several shows, not to mention the traditional events within the Carnival of the Brenta Riviera and the Terra dei Tiepolo."

Monday, February 06, 2006

Six More Weeks!

Six more weeks until I go back to Venice. I'm homesick. I can't wait to unpack my bags in my apartment (through Views on Venice, as always). Then we're heading to Ristorante Riviera (Tel: +39 041 522 7621, Zattere, opposite Molino Stucky, Dorsoduro) for lunch--this is my current favorite Venetian restaurant. I hope they haven't changed.

Here's my question to all you Venice experts who are reading this: I'm bringing a friend who's never been to Venice and I want to make the first day a memorable one. What should we do after lunch? Should we immediately go to Piazza San Marco? Should we take a vaporetto up and down the Grand Canal? Should we wander around until we're lost and stop for a spritz to rejuvenate ourselves?

Tell me your perfect itinerary for the first day for a first timers. (Our flight lands in the morning. We should be in Venice by noon.) The winning entry will receive a copy of THE FOOD OF VENICE cookbook. I'm the judge and it's purely subjective!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Venice: Most Expensive Public Transportation in Italy

I missed this article, but our sharp friends at Slow Talk noticed it. (By the way, you should ckeck out Slow Talk and Slow Travel. You'll learn a lot about the "slow" way to travel.

Here's the article about Venice's transportation costs. I love Venice's vaporetti, so I don't mind the increase.

(AGI) - Venice, Feb. 1 - Venice is the most expensive city of Italy for public transport. The water-bus ticket was raised from 3.5 to 5 euro from today. The rise (up 40 pct) does not involve Venice residents who have the so-called Venice card. They pay the ticket only one euro. Tourists and visitors will pay 5 euro and will have reduced timetables because the ticket length passes from 90 minutes to one hour. The 24 hours and 72 hours tickets rose too (from 10.50 to 12 euro and from 22 to 25 euro). The Venice transport company, Actv, said that the fare rises were due to the rise of the fuel price and the cuts made to the company budget by the Veneto region. Over 15 million people visited Venice last years while residents in central Venice are only 60,000.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Need a Reason to Watch the Super Bowl?

I'm a football fan, and I'm rooting for the Steelers. I also realize that there are a lot of people who do not enjoy American football. Well, here's another reason to tune in: the commercials are often the best part of the game and this Sunday's Super Bowl will include a commercial starring Fabio, the cover boy of many a romance paperback, floating down the Grand Canal. The following story comes from


Heart-throb FABIO will try to woo the women watching the American football Super Bowl final on Sunday (05FEB06) with a new advertisement for an insurance company.

The 30-second commercial spoofs Fabio's romantic image with his golden locks flowing while he rows a gondola in Venice, Italy.

When Fabio hands his love interest a rose, she looks up in horror to discover Fabio has become an 85-year-old man.

The ad's cautionary slogan is, "Life comes at you fast."

Fabio says, "The (insurance) company was tired of silly commercials from the competition."

The lothario tells the New York Daily News that he had to endure four and half hours of special effects make-up to authentically age.

When asked if he thinks he'll ever actually look that way he says, "I hope not, but in life you never know."

The Super Bowl is expected to attract 90 million viewers and 30-second ads have sold for a record $2.5 million (GBP1.38 million) each.