Despite the fog, these are the days of the so-called “St. Martin summer”, that very brief period when autumn gets milder which in the United States is called Indian summer, in Germany Altweibersommer and so on. In Venice the festival of this Catholic saint, which falls tomorrow, 11 November, is warmly celebrated by locals, not only because it coincides with the time when must turns into wine …
According to the legend, Martin, a Roman soldier stationed in Gaul, cut his cloak and gave it to a poor shivering beggar he met on his way. That scene has been depicted many times in the history of western art, as in Pordenone’s SS. Martino e Cristoforo in the beautiful San Rocco’s Church (featured above). A symbol of generosity related to the arrival of winter that the rural culture, especially in northern Italy, celebrates in various ways. Apart from new wine and chestnuts, in Venice there are two cakes typical of this feast, the persegada (quince paste cake) and the San Martino’s shortbread biscuits. In town (and in other areas of Veneto region) there is also a peculiar tradition peculiar which resembles very much Halloween. Venetians kids use to ring the bell to ask for a candy, but instead of saying “trick or treat”, they sing this silly nursery rhyme:

San Martin xe ‘ndà in sofita
A trovar la so novissa
So novissa no ghe gera
El xe ‘nda col cuo par tera

San Martin went into the attic
to find his girlfriend
his girlfriend was not there
he fall on his ass