Every time I research a city I think I know, I find something else interesting. While looking for hotels and apartments in Venice, I noticed that the first weekend of April was oddly booked up. When this is a recurring theme in the search results, it usually means that there is some event going on that I either have forgotten about (ok Carnevale is over I think, Easter isn’t for a while, no Biennale right now – I should be good…wait, what’s their patron saint? When do they put the bridge over to the Giudecca?! AHH WHAT IS IT) or, like this one, I had no idea even existed.
A few more searches in Italian and I found it: Since 1975, the Su e Zo per i Ponti – or Up and Down the Bridges, has been taking place and thousands flock to Venice for the event. According to the website – also in English for anyone interested, it “involves thousands of people in a walk for solidarity around Venice alleys: young and not-so-young people, families, school groups, sport teams, all together in a day devoted to meeting, friendship and solidarity.” The money raised for the walk is donated to a different Charity every year, and it’s an opportunity for Italian (and foreign) families to take part in a community event and really feel a part of the culture here.
Now – that is wonderful. I think it’s a great event that brings life (I’m assuming much of it local) into the city for a happy event that raises money for great causes. However, this means that Venice will be flooded with humans – and the route of the walk snakes through the little alleys that are usually spared from the endless line of international visitors – so there will be no escape.
I am a veteran of the warzone that is crowded Venice. a few years of being in charge of groups of people in the thick of Carnevale is utter hell. There is no beauty when you can’t even walk at a normal pace. There are traffic jams on those picturesque bridges because no one can heave their 50lb luggage up the steps. If it rains, you’re going to have to find a dry spot. Hint: there aren’t many unless you want to spend money – may the odds be ever in your favor. I pity the people that pick to visit that gorgeous city once in their lifetime on a wrong day and spend most of it looking at the back of other people’s heads.
It’s just that these wonderful and positive events flood a city that is already flooded – in more ways than one and yes I know I’m being ironic because soon I’ll be back up there, but there’s a lot more Bostonians in New York than there are Italians – and sometimes I think there are more New Yorkers in Venice than Venetians. Does that make sense?
On one hand, my mother and I could raise our hands in surrender, sign up for the thing ourselves and join in on the chaos. Nothing can be as bad as Carnevale – and the weather should be better. Plus, since my last job with EnVeritas for Google Trips, I have expanded my knowledge of the area out to the farthest islands – there’s so much more than San Marco.
On the other hand, we can move our trip a day earlier, beat the crowds, and get the Venice I love – the one where the back alleys glow golden and silent and the canals are a hazy green-blue that just perfectly contrast the oranges and reds and pink pigments that crumble off the beautifully ruined palaces. To see Venice, you have to get lost in it.
Then we’ll be on the fast train home to Tuscany – and that is as far as I’ve planned today. 🙂 But even if we don’t decide to walk the walk, I still love that I found out about it – and I’m thinking if Venice doesn’t sink in a few years before the 50th year of Su e Zo, I feel like I may just have to sign up.