UPDATED: "Venice kisses in New Year Eve"

Ah, Venice! Sounds lovely... Certainly better than catching a flying prosecco bottle to the head, which is what you normally risk on New Year's Eve in Saint Mark's Square!!

"TENS of thousands of people took part in a giant New Year's kiss in front of Saint Mark's Basilica in the romantic Italian city of Venice.Under a sky lit with fireworks some 60,000 people kissed in the 'Love 2008' event, organiser Marco Balich said.The city staged the event so people 'begin the New Year with a gesture of love, peace, brotherhood, and passion', it said on its website."

(Article from Agence France-Presse, via news.com.au)
UPDATE (1/5/08):
Apparently, I wasn't far off with the prosecco bottle quip! Here's a great comment on this post that I thought I'd go ahead and cut and paste into the original...

Miss Expatria said, "I love your blog! I read Cat Bauer's myspace blog as well - she lives in Venice - and she wrote a really interesting take on what happened AFTER the kissing stopped."

Wow, what a story! I'm sorry that Cat had to face all that, but frankly it's why I stopped going to New Year's Eve in Piazza San Marco years ago... It's too damn dangerous! Please don't get me wrong... as Cat suggests, Venice is a notoriously safe and mild (almost to the point of being dull!) city 98% of the time. This however changes with the addition of vast quantities of alcohol...

Now, Venetians themselves are famous throughout Italy for their habitual drinking. Typically, any "Foster Brooks" style character on Italian television often has a nice, strong Venetian accent. But Venetians still do not approve of boisterous hooligan-type drunkards or dangerous behavior... They just start early in the morning with a caffe' corretto (espresso with a shot of grappa!), may nurse a slow buzz all day with a periodic spritz, and then down a bottle of wine with dinner (which is supposed to be okay healthwise, as long as it's not the cheap stuff!)
Which reminds me of an anecdote... According to the Xenophobe's Guide to Venetians (from the great Xenophobe Guides series), a Venetian water-bus captain once had his annual checkup in which the doctor asked how much wine he drank a day. The captain replied [in Venetian dialect], "'Na roba normal... un litro, un litro e mezo ma solo queo bon" (that is, "Oh, just what's normal... a liter or a liter and a half, but only the good stuff!")
Anyway, FYI... One only tends to encounter out-of-control, completely blotto drunkards in Venice on just three occasions:
  1. Any random night in Campo Santa Margherita (which has become the local partying mecca for students who want to tie one on...)
  2. Carnivale
  3. New Year's Eve

It doesn't mean however that these occasions should be entirely avoided necessarily... It can be worth seeing once, if just for the people watching. You might consider bringing a hardhat with you, though!

P.S. Before anybody worries about the safety of Venetian transportation, fear not! I know from my Venetian friends that public transport drivers are not allowed to work if they test positive for alcohol in random testing, so accidents are no more frequent on public transport than they are in the U.S.


Miss Expatria said...

I love your blog! I read Cat Bauer's myspace blog as well - she lives in Venice - and she wrote a really interesting take on what happened AFTER the kissing stopped.


Anonymous said...

I heard Cat Bauer has just 24 hours to save Venice!