My friends Laura and B, expats living in Venice for nearly a decade, joined me today to go to the Festa di Malamocco, on the island that continues along after you leave the Lido. We got there in time to see the women’s regatta–two rowers per boat. They race quite a long way, with a little flotilla of boats following along. We walked along the riva to watch.
The boats head way down the island before turning around and coming back. Arancia had the winning team, wearing their racing miniskirts and orange sashes around their waists. I talked to Gianni Bussetto, one of the gondola racers who will have his turn next week at the Giudecca races. He and his buddy were excited when I said I knew about Maria Boscola, the great female regatta winner from the 1700s. “We love Maria Boscola!” they said.
No sooner had we snapped a few shots of the winners and the other boats when we spied a little orange Aperol van handing out free spritz. Guess we got distracted. The guy in the wooden Lucy booth next to it was handing out bread with olive tapenade. After he left, I had my photo op there.
We wandered around for a bit to see the flea market–people had set up tables and were selling knickknacks and other odd bits, like lamps. What do people call a flea market or swap meet in Italy? We visited the candy booth, too.
We had some dinner–a basket of fried seafood, including calamari, shrimp, prawns, and little bitty prawns. B asked, “Is it real fish or scary sea monsters?” Even though the prawns still had their heads on, she decided they weren’t scary sea monsters and she ate them. She even decapitated mine when I was too cowardly.
But then we heard the band start up and realized the religious procession was beginning. Eight bearers carried a statue of the Virgin Mary for a few blocks, ending at the church, where the priest blessed it and asked for continued health and fortune for the people of Malamocco. The crowd genuflected and sang a song together before the statue was carried back into the church.
We returned to the water and enjoyed another spritz and watched the water change colors for a while.
Children had balloons shaped like pink ponies, Vespas, and motorcycles. Then we heard a rather weird sound–a local band singing, “You’re just another brick in a wall.” The little kids, like 3 and 4 years old, were all standing in front of the stage dancing, holding their balloons. But then the band started playing older tunes, and the sixty-year-old crowd took over. It was such a pleasure to watch them dance. There’s just something about a couple that’s been dancing together for 30 or 40 years, the way their bodies know each other and they glide along.
Though thunderstorms were predicted, they never came. We had perfect weather that any fish would enjoy.