The city was all haywire as an important visitor was expected: Frederick IV king of Denmark and Norway would visit the Serenissima.
Obviously a regatta couldn’t miss! The Serenissima organized regattas on a regular basis in occasion of important festivities (amongst others to keep the male citizens fit for war) or the visit of VIPs.
The Grand Canal would fill with splendid and colorfully decorated boats with imposing gilded or silver-plated statues rising in the rear or bow accompanied by little angels or sea animals. Even the “rematori” (rowers) were spruced up: Some rowers were dressed in oriental style with red turbans decorated with a single feather, others wore large blue pants with a red shirt. They would row along the Grand Canal passing in front of Frederick IV who observed them with shiny eyes.
Together with Frederick, another guest arrived from the North, a cold wave, that made the lagoon freeze over (1708) and provided cheer and giddy ado amongst Venetians: Adults danced hilariously like children on the ice, others were sitting in wooden chars being pushed and pulled over the frozen water, others tried to find hold on the ice or had already kissed the icy surface, some were stuck with their boat.
Anonymous painter. Querini Stampalia, Venice.
It was not the first or the last time that the lagoon froze over: A painting by Francesco Battaglioli depicts the frozen lagoon in 1788 and still today you can find a graffiti that remembers the frozen lagoon from 1864 when Venetians walked from the Fondamente Nove to Murano.
The last time the lagoon was frozen over was in 2012.