Monday, December 25, 2017

Bringing the Baby

photos and video by Nereo Zane

Each year the GSVVM rowing club in Mestre has a traditional row into town.
The members all dress in Christmas-related costumes.
Most in Santa gear, but some others in more regionally recognized outfits.

 Three rowers pause fir a photo at the club 
before launching their boat for the row.

On a cold December day, just before the traditional 
procession, let's all take a group photo!

After a fun group excursion, all the boats end up in a canal in the 
city of Mestre, where families have all converged to see all of the Santas 
(the Italian name for Santa, by the way, is "Babbo Natale").

The jam-packed canal is a sea of orange and blue boats...

...populated by a lot of folks in red and white.

Getting the boats tied up is a fun challenge.

Treats are tossed to the children who have come to see the spectacle.

While the procession, the pageantry, and the tossing of treats are all important aspects of this tradition, the main purpose of the whole thing is to bring a symbolic baby Jesus to the nativity scene, to be placed in the manger.

Thanks to Nereo Zane for these images and video clips.

Merry Christmas, my friends.
Merry Christmas and Buon Natale.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Santa in San Diego!

This gem of a photo comes to us from the folks 
at The Gondola Company in Coronado, California.

Full disclosure, that's Sean on the back (because the real Santa 
doesn't row voga-alla-Veneta with such perfect form).

Sean tells me that while the photo was taken in December, 
it was a hot day, with temperatures in the eighties.  
He was sweaty and uncomfortable.

But it's all about getting that perfect shot,
and THIS really IS a perfect shot.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Mr. and Mrs. Claus in Texas

Santa Claus and Mrs. Clause made an appearance 
at the Gondola Adventures servizio in Irving, Texas this week.  

There wasn't a lot of snow to be found, 
so they swapped out their sled for a Santa-sized gondola. 

I once heard a local say that they have four seasons in Texas: 
Almost Summer, Summer, Still Summer, and Christmas.

This was A fun family event, put on by the Irving Convention and Visitor's Bureau. Children got to climb aboard the boat and have the pictures taken with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Boat Parade Snaps

The Christmas Boat Parade in Newport Beach was great this year.
The boats in the procession were terrific, 
the weather was practically perfect, 
and everyone on the water had a wonderful time.

Here are a few snaps I took while rowing.

Paul rows alongside the parade.

This one was a huge favorite. That's a hot air balloon burner up front. 
There was another at the top of the "volcano".

 Two gondolas casting two silhouettes.

Another gondola silhouette.

Classic saiboat entry.
These guys impress me every year.

Choo-choo train theme - complete with a chase boat 
that displayed a railroad crossing sign and bar.
The train sound effects on this one were awesome, 
and those trees all changed color independently.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Low Winter Sun

This afternoon I caught a few of my guys heading out towards the sun as it was nearing the horizon.
The low, long, and more distant nature of winter sunshine makes for some different lighting situations.
Add a little contrast to the mix and you get a pretty dramatic look.

 Simon and the sun.

Robert readjusts.

Steve is on fire!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Yes, Venice is My Muse

photo by Andrew McHardy

I am a huge fan of Kathleen Gonzalez.
Her book "Free Gondola Ride" has been in my carry-on bag for more flights than I can count - it's such a great book to read and re-read.
I've given it as a Christmas gift to a lot of my gondola friends as well. 

Kathleen has done a fair amount of writing beyond that one book, and she also hosts a terrific blog about Venice and Casanova (one of her greatest areas of interest).

Each month Kathleen interviews someone with a set of questions about Venice and how they see, feel, visit, and are inspired by her.

This month, for better or worse, I'm the one who she interviewed.

Check out the post at:…/venice-my-muse-gre…/

There are great photos by
Tamás Fehér,
Simon Atkins,
and Andrew McHardy.
as well as mention of Saverio Pastor,
Gilberto Penzo, Alberto Bozzo and his Emilio Ceccato store, Roberto Tramontin's great grandfather,
Row Venice,
and of course, Giuliana Longo.

Big thanks to Kathleen for the honor of being this month's interviewee.
It was a lot of fun. I wish I could do it again.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Jonah and Paul

photo by Tony Storti

After finishing their heat in the two-man distance race, 
Jonah Bonner (in front) and Paul Imler (on the stern) shared a look, 
a conversation, and from that point on...a great memory.

This was their first year competing at the US Gondola Nationals, 
and I could not have been more proud of them.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Last-Minute Launch

photos by Tony Storti, Patrice Greenberg, and Greg Mohr

On the morning of the first day of Nationals this year, everything was in place, but one boat still needed to be launched.
Bepi rolled in with his sandolo on trailer, and we all jumped into action.

Here's a photographic play-by-play:
 First contact.

 "Here's what we're gonna do..."

 The lift.

 The carry.

Tipping her towards the water.
 Parker with a quick smile.

Tony had a great angle from on the water.
 Reaching the beach.

 "How do I do this without getting my shoes wet?"

...aaaand touchdown!

Monday, December 4, 2017

GCON Four at the Buoy

photo by Steve Atkins

At the midpoint of the four-man race route, there's a buoy to turn at.
I watched the GCON four as they clocked in their winning time.
This buoy turn was a perfect example of their skills.

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Power of Pasta!

photo by Patrice Goldberg

When Bepi of Sunset Gondola was preparing to host the US Gondola Nationals this year, I called him up and asked if he would like to support Caterina's Club once again.  
We had adopted the charity when we hosted Nationals in Newport two years earlier, they are a great and worthy cause, and Bepi agreed.

 photo by Steve Atkins

When we race gondolas, we aren't in a position to raise money. 
In fact most of our guys are students, 
who scrape together tip money in order to make it to Nationals.

We don't have money to give, but we do have something else: visibility.
Put a sign on a gondola, and people will see it.
Get that gondola in a once-a-year race, and people will photograph it.

photo by Steve Atkins

Caterina's Club is dedicated to feeding children in need.
Chef Bruno Serato, who owns the Anaheim White House restaurant, 
has served over two million meals through the program.
I have a huge amount of respect for the man.
When he wrote a book about it, called "The Power of Pasta" I wanted to support that as well...and then I realized how perfect it would be to have those words posted on the bow of an Italian boat, being rowed by men and women who are often truly "powered by pasta".

photo by Steve Atkins 

 Special thanks to Alberto Bozzo at Emilio Ceccato 
for making us look good as we were powered by pasta.