There was a strange atmosphere in the city. Maybe only for me because I have never been to Venice so early in the year. While in front of San Marco's Basilica there was a Christmas tree yet and the streets were decorated with Christmas lights, some shops were already adorned with carnival masks. Soot-covered Befanas hang on chandeliers in the restaurants, smiled from shop windows and sat down between the handbags. I even met a real one in a black dress on the San Marco Square.
The regatta was supposed to be held at 11 am, but surprisingly at 10 am when I walked around the bridge it was already crowded with people from different countries.
I started writing this blog especially to let you know what to expect, what is worth to see and what to avoid - because some feasts are described as the biggest events in the Milky Way Galaxy but you go there and nothing happens. And vice versa.
This was the first case. ,,Masked fleets” were represented by four gondolas. You read correctly, FOUR. Witches had long skirts and caps, no noses. They didn't even row for 15 minutes. They didn't even start to sweat and it was over. I didn't see any enthusiasm, these four men looked as they were forced to do it as it was promised on the Internet. And I didn't meet the girls who were supposed to distribute hot chocolate, mulled wine and sweets on the bridge.
I asked local people about the previous years and they tried to convince me it was always a mass action. Did I have the ,,luck” to be there during the bad year? Well, I don't think so. Maybe it’s all about advertising, you need to know how to sell yourself or your homeland. Think about the Loch Ness monster, Moai statues or Montezuma's treasure… Did you notice that some countries have more interesting monuments, more mysterious legends and more crazy feasts than others? Or do they?!
I have my theory. Once, when I was walking in Bratislava downtown I saw a group of Italians standing by Čumil statue, the chap poking out of a manhole. It was installed in 1997 as part of an effort to embellish the capital damaged by communist architecture and quickly became the symbol of the city. The usually loud Italians were standing there, looking stunned; and with googly eyes listened to their guide – also an Italian. They looked like fanatical crowd just before deciding to commit mass suicide. They devoured every word he said like chocolate.
Curious, I came closer and understood. The guide was explaining to them why the statue was built. He had more fantasy than Dänikken. I learnt that during the Second World War partisans were hiding in Bratislava's channels and one of them was particularly brave. When someone was in danger he emerged from a canal discreetly as a ghost (as long as the sewer ghost could be discreet) and hit/stunned/ killed a dangerous fascist and saved an innocent victim. The citizens of Bratislava didn't forget his bravery and dedicated him this monument.