Sunday, April 27, 2014

More Venetians than Tourists in Piazza San Marco and Open Arsenale

Human Rose in Piazza San Marco, April 25, 2014
(Venice, Italy) April 25th is Italian Liberation Day, which commemorates the end of the Second World War. But in Venice, long before there was a united Italy, April 25th was the Feast of Saint Mark, Venice's patron saint. On that day, during the Festa del Bocolo, or "Festival of the Rose Blossom," men give a single rose to the women they love -- their wives, girlfriends, friends, mothers, aunts -- any woman they care about. And behind that tradition is a wonderful Venetian legend.

This year, to celebrate the day, about 1,000 residents took to Piazza San Marco to create a human rose. It was part of an ongoing project by the Venetian artist Elena Tagliapietra and the Venetian author, Alberto Toso Fei to bring alive stories and traditions of Venice's past in 13 different venues -- the rose was the sixth event. Toso Fei read the legend of the rose in three languages -- Italian, English and Venetian -- while volunteers, including yours truly, formed a magnificent rose in the center of the square after having the red rose painted on our faces.

Cat Bauer & The Rose Tattoo
Here is the story:

A noblewoman, Maria Partecipazio, and a troubadour, Tancredi, fell in love. But Maria was the daughter of the Doge, and marriage to a troubadour would never have her father's approval. In order to overcome the social class differences, Tancredi went off to war to find glory and raise himself to the higher social level of his beloved. He served as a valiant soldier under Charles the Great in the war against the Moors, but, unfortunately, was mortally wounded. As he lay dying in a pool of blood by a bed of red roses, he plucked a rose for Maria Partecipazio and asked his comrade, Orlando, to take the blossom to his beloved Lady in Venice, stained with his blood. Orlando kept his vow, and arrived in Venice the day before the Feast of Saint Mark. He gave the rose to Maria Partecipazio as the last message of love from the dying Tancredi. The next morning, Maria Partecipazio herself was found dead, the red rose lying on her heart, finally joined with her beloved in the celestial world. Since that time, Venetian lovers use the symbol of the red rose blossom to pledge their love. 



So, creating the human rose in Piazza San Marco is a symbol to remind the world how much Venetians deeply love their city. After we took the photo the people in the bell tower waved to us on the ground, and the rose people waved back. We waved and waved until everyone broke into spontaneous applause; then we clapped and clapped, and it really was an emotional, beautiful moment.



Later that afternoon, Venetians from all over the Veneto defied an order not to gather in Piazza San Marco and arrived waving their flags. On March 16th, the same day that Crimea voted to secede from the Ukraine, the Veneto had symbolically voted to secede from Italy, sending a strong message to Rome that they felt overtaxed and unappreciated. Luca Zaia, the President of the Veneto Region, gave his full support to the demonstration, saying that it was not political but a manifestation of identity. "Seeking to ban the party of the Veneto from the heart of the Veneto -- Piazza San Marco -- on the feast day of Saint Mark, is not only incomprehensible, but offensive and insensitive."


Lucio Chiavegato, a secessionist who had been released from prison last Friday for allegedly plotting to take over Piazza San Marco with a homemade tank (click to read the story in The Local), arrived with his wife to attend mass in the Basilica of San Marco with Patriarch Francis Moraglia, saying "we have invoked the protection of Saint Mark, which makes us free from the occupying State."

View from Austrian tower
Meanwhile, down at Arsenale, Rome meets Venice halfway. On February 6, 2013, Italy gave Venice back a chunk of Arsenale, the enormous area where the Venetian Republic once was able to whip out up to two ships per day. For the past three days, April 25 to 27, much of Arsenale has been open to the public. Called Arsenale Aperto alla Città or "Arsenal Open to the City," the different entities that are now based in the Arsenale decided it would be a good idea to let the residents know what was going on down there. A collaboration between the City of Venice, ACTV (the vaporetto and bus system), VELA (part of ACTV, which distributes tickets to Venice's cultural organizations through HELLO VENEZIA) Consorzio Venezia Nuova (the State Concessionary for the protection of Venice and its Lagoon, whose head ended up imprisoned for corruption), La Biennale (Venice's international artistic organization) Magistrato alle Acque (Venice's water authority), Instituto di Studi Militari Marittimi (the Maritime Military Institute) and Thetis (a consultancy and system integrator company, controlled by Consorzio Venezia Nuova), the event included conferences, boat rides, rowing lessons, history lessons, pottery lessons for the kids, a spectacular view from the old tower built by the Austrians when they occupied Venice -- I even got to sit inside the MOSES CONTROL ROOM, headquarters for the moveable dams that are supposed to rise up and protect Venice from acqua alta, or high water, then disappear under water again when the danger has passed.

The folks who make wine out on San Michele, the cemetery island, were there; the Afghans who make food from the Orient were there; the anti-cruise ship people were there, as were bunch of other creative folks; there was live music and real life transported to Arsenale. (Let's hope it's not a ploy to distract everyone's attention from the Rialto and Piazza San Marco!)

Pottery lessons a big hit with the younger set
Today, a hodgepodge of different interests call the Arsenale their base. And now Venetians get to play down there, too. Let's hope there's no fighting!

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. But in Venice, long before there was a united Italy, April 25th was the Feast of Saint Mark, Venice's patron saint. On that day, during the Festa del Bocolo, or "Festival of the Rose Blossom," men give a single rose to the women they love -- their wives, girlfriends, friends, mothers, aunts -- any woman they care about. And behind that tradition is a wonderful Venetian legend.

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