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Notes on the history of the Venice Film Festival

One of the events that every year attract thousands of tourists in the city of Venice is without a doubt the International Film Festival held at the Lido. Throughout the entire duration of the exhibition, the city of Venice becomes the destination of many toursts, film lovers and dives, and it is the sould of events and worldly evenings. The apartments rented for tourist purposes and the hotels are often fully booked up and clearly this is not the ideal time for those who would like to spend a quiet holiday at Lido, away from the chaos and stress of the city.

This international event has far-reaching origins over time. The first edition of the Exhibition, once called the International Exhibition of Cinematographic Art, was held in 1932, in the wider context of the Biennale of Venice. This edition took place at Hotel Excelsior in Lido and was not competitive, character that the Exhibition assumed in its second edition, held in 1934 . On this occasion, the exhibition attracted almost twenty participating nations and many journalists. From its third edition, of 1935, the Exhibition become an event every year. This evolution consecrates the success of an event that attracts more and more films and countries, and that since 1936 had a true international jury. On the wave of this success, in 1937 was inaugurated the Palace of Cinema, a building that allowed to accomodate a greater number of participants and spectators.

Following a temporary transfer away from the Lido before and a suspension due to the Second World War then, the Show resumed in 1946, when it took place at the Cinema San Marco and attempted to regain the weight and international prestige of a time. In 1947 the Exhibition was held at the Palazzo Ducale and received a huge success, recording a number of viewers never seen before. Two years later, the Exhibition came back to Lido and the Best Film Award was born, namely the Leone di San Marco.

In the following decades, the exhibition saw a great expansion and affirmation worldwide but did not go free of criticism and controversy, especially during the Sixties and Seventies, decades in which, on several occasions, the Exhibition again assumed a non competitive character. Since 1979 the show took the name of the International Film Festival Exhibition and in the following decades it was possible to witness various efforts aimed at bringing the event back to the prestige of the years before, culminating in the creation of the Palabiennale of Lido, in the restoration of the Sala Perla and Sala Grande, in the renovation of various other halls and in the organization and especially in recent years of events aimed at attracting a vast audience.

The Island of Burano

For those who want to get away from the crowd of tourists in the historic center, during their holiday in Venice, a destination definitely to suggest is the enchanting island of Burano. Walking around for its calli, the colors of its homes and apartments will let you fascinate and the little scenes of everyday life will amaze you.

This island can be reached in about 45 minutes by boat from the city center. It is currently inhabited by about 3000 people and it was initially populated in correspondence with the escape made by the people of Altino from the invasions of the barbaric people.

Originally, the houses were piles and then they turned into casoni. It would appear that once the colors of the buildings were used to distinguish the individual properties, although according to a legend fishermen painted the walls of their own house to be recognized from afar while they were working.

At first, Burano was mainly inhabited by farmers and fishermen, and it was only through the embroidery of laces made by women that the area was enriched and its production was exported abroad.

For those who would like to have a good culinary break during their visit to the island, we suggest trying the delicious “risotto di gò”, cooked in a broth made with the  rocky goby fish. Also don’t miss the delicious local biscuits, such as the so-called Esse.

Other characteristic features to be noted about this city are the capitals at the entrance of the “calli” and the famous “Casa di Bepi Suà”, known for the large number of colors used, divided into several geometric shapes. Don’t miss the “Tre Ponti” wooden bridge, from which you can take wonderful panoramic photos and that, together with the other typical elements of the island, makes Burano an extremely impressive destination.

The Island of Torcello

The island of Torcello has very few inhabitants, most of whom instead of living in an apartment have chosen to opt for a more spacious solution, such as a farm or similar buildings. Nevertheless, the island continues to attract a number of tourists thanks to its artistic and archaeological heritage. Many are in fact the visitors who, during a holiday, decide to reach this island to enjoy the atmosphere and the silence, as well as to see places the leap out to a distinct aura of mystery.

The origins of this island are ancient, so as to make it one of the earliest settlements of the entire lagoon of Venice. According to archaeologists, the first settlements in Torcello date back to the dawn of the Roman Empire. However, some centuries had to pass and some works to reclaim and protect the soil of the island to assist in a more significant population phase. From the archaeological excavations carried out, it appears that, at this phase of reclamation around the 7th century, fruit trees and vineyards were planted and glass processing activities started.

Being at a strategic point for trades and being the center of excellence in wool processing in the city of Venice, the island of Torcello was for a long time particularly flourishing, giving home to several thousand people.

Around the fifteenth century however, the island entered a phase of decline due to the unhealthy air created due to a process of turning into a marsh of the surrounding area and of several plagues. These phenomena, together with the proximity to Venice, caused a gradual depopulation, followed by episodes of destruction of the heritage left by the former inhabitants. After the decline of the island, many buildings were destroyed and the materials that made them were reused for the growth of the historical center, while on the island the inhabitants continued to decrease.

On this island you can still admire the most suggestive places, such as the basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, restored around the year 1000, the church of Santa Fosca dating to the twelfth century, the Devil’s Bridge, which stand out for the lack of parapets, a typical feature in ancient times of all Venetian bridges, and the throne of Attila, a throne of stones of which Attila, King of the Huns, according to the legend, sat and that was probably used by the head of the administration of justice of the island.

The historic regatta

Among the events that attract many visitors every year in the city of Venice is the well-known historical Regatta. Many tourists choose to spend their holidays in the city during the time this event is organized, in order to participate in this suggestive and exciting occasion. Seeing historic boats from the apartment, from the hotel room, from the banks of the Grand Canal or from a boat is indeed something really unique and special.

The historic Regatta has far-reaching origins over time. The first testimonies date back to the 13th century, but many think it has even more ancient roots. At first, the Regatta was held on the occasion of the festival of the Marie, while today it is celebrated every Sunday in September.
The competitive Regatta (as you can see it today) was organized the first time in 1841, when the city of Venice asked the Austrian authorities to organize a competition along the Grand Canal. From that year, the Regatta was paid no more by the private, but by the public administration, and from 1866 it became a celebration of the golden age of the Republic of Venice.
Although the origins of the event are ancient, it was only in 1899 that, on the proposal of the Mayor of the town Grimani, it assumed the current name of historic Regatta.

At present, the event opens with a historic procession of enchanting boats of the sixteenth century, whose guide is the Bucintoro, the boat used by the Venetian Doge on Ascension Day, on the occasion of the celebration of the city’s marriage with the sea. In testa al corteo sono poste altresì delle imbarcazioni nominate bissone. Un tempo, accanto ad altre imbarcazioni denominate peote, le bissone venivano utilizzate per far fronte ai disordini che accadevano in occasione della regata, dal momento che, per affrontare le imbarcazioni scarsamente disciplinate, da esse venivano lanciate le balote, ovvero delle palle fatte di terracotta, usate normalmente nella caccia ai volatili lagunari.
Il magnifico corteo storico rievoca anno dopo anno il benvenuto dato nel lontano 1489 a Caterina Cornaro, moglie del Re di Cipro, che decise di rinunciare al suo trono per la città di Venezia.
Concluso il corteo, viene dato inizio alle competizioni tra imbarcazione di varia tipologia, come ad esempio il gondolino, la mascareta, la gondola. Il punto di partenza della regata è situato a Sant’Elena e, percorrendo il Canal Grande sotto gli occhi incantati degli spettatori, le imbarcazioni arrivano a Santa Lucia, fanno il giro del paleto e si dirigono al punto d’arrivo e di premiazione, ovvero la machina sita davanti al palazzo Ca’ Foscari, dando vita ad uno spettacolo ed un’atmosfera davvero entusiasmanti.