La Befana

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.

Serving vin brule (hot spicy red wine)




Filed under Venice

12 responses to “La Befana

  1. They looked dead serious about the race, Pat!


  2. Pat

    Italians have such a great sense of humor! So funny!!


  3. What fun. These guys are hilarious and your photos are great. I love vin brule!


  4. Love how the men look as old witches.


  5. Michelle

    It’s Yvonne who is the treasure!


  6. How terrific that you are there to share all these treasures with us! Thank you, Yvonne!


  7. That looks like so much fun.


  8. Michelle

    Is it only men “of a certain age” who take part….she said noting all the gray mustaches???


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