Thursday, November 12, 2015

Festa Di San Martino in Venice

For the past few days we've noticed a treat that we haven't seen before in the windows of the local pasticceria, the supermarkets, general food shops etc. The treats are of varying sizes with the same picture on it - horse and rider - and the words San Martino.

Today in the Rio Marin Pasticceria across the canal from our apartment a few women came in and purchased the biscuit/cake which was of course wrapped up beautifully by the shop keeper there. When the shop had emptied we asked about it and what it meant. 

She told us that it was today, in Venice, the Festa Di San Martino and that it was mainly for children. (We had guessed that by the design and components of the treat which included chocolate coins, Lindt chocolate balls, loads of icing etc) she told us about the crowns - and a few hours before we'd seen a large group of children singing with yellow crowns on their head - and she told us about the noise.

What noise.....?

Well it didn't take long before a group of school kids, young, primary school age, came tumbling down the canal, banging and clanging on pots and pans, and singing a song. I filmed them as it was very entertaining, but won't post the actual video here, just a screenshot from it.

We then spent some time researching San Martino and the festival itself. Time Out described it as "Kids armed with mamma’s pots and spoons raise a ruckus around the city, chanting the saint’s praises and demanding trick-or-treat style tokens in return for taking their noise elsewhere. Horse-and-rider shaped San Martino cakes, with coloured icing dotted with silver balls, proliferate in cake shops."

One of the things we discovered today was that many Venetians were pleased to see old traditions get a new life, even if it is with noisy children who will be in a sugar coma at the end of the day after the treat! 

It was educational too for us as we were not familiar with the story of San Martino. Legend says that St Martin met a starving, freezing beggar in Amiens. He cut his cloak into two pieces and gave the beggar the other half, hence his association as the saint for the poor and for charity. When he did this, the sun apparently came out. Now we do love Venice on a blue sky day and these past few days have been foggy and overcast. St Martin, would you mind sending some sunshine our way? That would be wonderful, thanks... 

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