In Italian folklore, Befana is an old woman who delivers gifts to children throughout Italy on Epiphany, January 6. If you’ve been naughty, expect some carbone, a black candy that looks like a lump of coal.
On Venice’s Grand Canal, men cast dignity to the wind, and, dressed as old witches ( befane in Italian) race towards the Rialto Bridge, standing up as they row Venetian style, in single-oared mascarete. The reward for their hard effort? Some fun,some vin brule, and a pennant if they were one of the first 4 across the finish line.
Crowds of happy people lined both sides of the Grand Canal near the Rialto Bridge, and space on the bridge itself was at a premium.