Street Fighting in the Lagoon
Posted by Andy Steves in on September 15, 2010.
We caught the next train with no other problems and arrived, bleary eyed, in Venice at 8:00 that morning. Our group of four split off to find our “budget hotel.” After a while, we decided we were lost. The streets in Venice change names randomly, and the numbers don’t follow any order at all. I then asked wearily for directions. My whole life Venetians have given me wrong directions. Young, old, male or female…it doesn’t matter. I don’t like them. In Venice you probably won’t get violently mugged or kidnapped, but you’ll get told the wrong way to a grocery store by a smiling grandma. The canals smell, are green with stagnant water and have shit floating in them. I know the wife will drag me back some day, but until then I’d be happy if I never go back. Anyways, I asked two middle-aged women in Italian where a street was, and they pointed the only direction that I knew it was not. We walked down that street a few meters just to make sure until we knew it was wrong. I then found the nicest lady I’ve ever met in Venice. She was Venetian but grew up in England and spoke perfect British English. She took me back to her place around the corner and brought down a 150-page map of Venice. We then found the exact block our hotel was on. I said “grazie e ciao” and went back to find my waiting friends and we found the place which was in opposite direction of our previous tip by the other Venetians who were still chatting on the corner.
We dropped off our bags in our loft-like room and went off to explore the city. Immediately we found a pizzeria just down the street where we would end up eating four of the next five meals. That afternoon we wandered the streets. Everything seemed a little quiet, so we asked around and found out two dockworkers had died earlier that week in an accident so the city cancelled the first day of Carnivale, which was essentially half our weekend. In the end, I was a bit disappointed by the lack of a party scene on the island. I always go to Venice optimistically thinking “maybe I’ll find something this time,” but usually never do.
On the other hand, this was the first time since I’ve been in Italy where the party happened in the daylight. On Saturday we did what you do in Venice: wander. Because the festival activities were cancelled, we just walked around all day. Street vendors were selling silly string and confetti. Having nothing else to do, my friends and I grabbed a few bottles and picked fights with young Venetians. We developed a baiting strategy to render our young opponent “dead” beyond a shadow of doubt. One of us would go out into the square and find some kids with the silly string in hand. He would sneak up behind and wait for an opportune time, then say “Raggazzi!!” and unleash the fury of the green and pink foam. The rest of us would wait on the steps of St. Mark’s Square and watch. With victims baited, he would then run back to us where we had our ammunition ready, safety switch off. Once the kids realized they were trapped, outmanned and outgunned, it was already too late. Just check out the pictures.
On Sunday morning we went out to catch a Gregorian Mass out on the island of St. Giorgio Maggiore. We had to get up early, walk across the entire island, and then catch a ferry from St. Mark’s. We followed the signs downstairs and into a backroom chapel where we found 20 Italians and a few priests. The one playing piano would fall asleep on it until the one next to him poked him when he was supposed to play. This was the first Italian Mass I’d been to. I could catch most of it, but I was definitely lost when it was the congregation’s turn to say the creed and other things. The Gregorian part was pretty cool. I think that just means they sing everything? I don’t know but that’s what it seemed like. We left the Mass and paid a few euros to go up the bell tower where we had a panoramic view of the entire lagoon. From there, we could see that St. Mark’s Square was absolutely packed, so after a few minutes we went back down to catch the boat to the party.
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