The rise of the rat: the Venice Carnival begins!

Feb 12, 2017 | food and wine, ships, sports, traditions, Venetian rowing | 0 comments

And so, ladies and gentlemen, Carnival has begun!

It has been already few years since a new tradition started, lo svolo della pantegana or the rise of the rat, organized by the Coordinamento Associazioni Remiere Voga alla Veneta.

Yes, rat. Please notice that translating the name of this event from Venetian dialect to English I can barely keep a straight face.

I will not focus on the fact that being Venice a city with more than one hundred canals it is inevitable that we, less than 55.000 residents, are not the only residents here.

For a little treasure hunt you can try to spot this old engraving while you visit the city, in Cannaregio district.

Engraving of a rat on a column in Venice

Engraving of a rat on a column in Venice

Carnival is for sure one the best known events related to Venice and something that Venetians always loved, especially as a child. I remember that my grandmother used to create for me and my brother extravagant outfits to wear at school as well as to play running around the campi (squares) of the city.

Thousands of visitors come from all over the world to wear their masks and most eccentric costumes during these days, therefore few years ago Venetians decided to modify the tradition and introduced a new event to inaugurate Carnival in a way to feel it more connected to the locals.

Lo svolo della pantegana involves a parade along the Grand Canal starting from the church of Madonna della Salute where hundreds of decorated rowing boats flow through the main “street” of Venice led by a caorlina carrying a very special guest: a large rat in paper-mâché.

Caorlina with the pantegana-rat in Carnival of Venice, 2017

Caorlina with the pantegana-rat in Carnival of Venice, 2017

A peata owned by Remiera del Brenta rowing club escorts the parade with a group of musicians playing and singing Venetian songs, followed by any sort of typical rowing boats, from one up to eighteen rowers on the same long boat (disdotona).

This year for the first time the mayor of Venice attended the parade.

The peata with musicians and mayor on the Grand Canal 2017

The peata with musicians and mayor on the Grand Canal 2017

For those who would like to participate there is just one requirement: wear a costume!

Any kind of costume actually, therefore the result is hilarious due to the eclectic choices of the different crews. When, in fact, would you have the chance to see Elvis Presley and Casanova on the same gonodola? Followed by minions. This year friends of mine and I decided to be sumo wrestlers.

My crew on a caorlina dressed up for Carnival

My crew on a caorlina dressed up for Carnival

Cannaregio canal, Guglie bridge Carnival 2017

Cannaregio canal, Guglie bridge Carnival 2017

Leaving the Grand Canal the parade takes the Cannaregio canal to end nearby ponte dei tre archi, a residential area of Venice away from the center.

When this tradition started the pantegana-rat, used to be thrown from the bridge tied to a rope, giving the impression it was flying over the water and this is the origin of the name the rise of the rat. Basically at first it was a way to make fun of another historic event of Carnival: il volo dell’angelo, the Flight of the Angel.

The audience on the Cannaregio canal, Carnival 2017

The audience on the Cannaregio canal, Carnival 2017

Lately at the end of the parade the large pantegana-rat opens to release confetti and colorful balloons, while along the shores of canal of Cannaregio people can find stands with all different typical dishes from pasta e fasioi (pasta in a beans soup), cicheti, saor and fritole of course! (if you want to learn more about fritole check out our previous post!).

Enjoy Carnival and discover more about Venice and its traditions with us, Best Venice Guides!

Pantegana-rat, Venice Carnival

Pantegana-rat, Venice Carnival

 

Marina Busetto
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