There are a slew of opportunities for eating and drinking, both in the city’s bacari, and at temporary official watering holes along the way. After the sixth refreshment stop, finishing the course tends to lose its importance.
Su e Zo Par I Ponti (Up and Down the Bridges) is a type of fun run that entails navigating your way around the city of Venice by using a map and a list of checkpoints. The run is tailored for individuals, families and groups who want to have a good time. The primary run is 13 km long (8 miles) and it crosses 56 bridges. It is most often held in April and the event is kicked off the night prior to the big run, which is open to all ages, with a chorale and a charity concert. Indeed a major focus of the run is for raising money for Venice schools and preschools.
Mass is held the morning of Su e Zo Par I Ponti at the Basilica San Marco. A ceremony amidst local dignitaries includes a flag-raising and beacon lighting. Then, at 10 a.m., the marathon begins at the corner of Palazzo Ducale at the Piazza San Marco. Several refreshment booths and watering holes are available along the Su e Zo Par I Ponti route and plenty of food to suit all palates.
School parties have their own run at the same time which starts at the Railway Station. It is shorter at 7 km long (4.3 miles) and participants cross 30 bridges. Those with 100+ people are awarded a € 200 voucher to be used for educational or sports purposes. There are other award categories for participating schools.
Tradition has it that adults can drink alcoholic beverages at their stops during the Su e Zo Par I Ponti, and some participants merrily enter local bars in Venice without re-joining the Su e Zo Par I Ponti.
A folk group’s parade is held following the run along with prize presentations and the winning folk group performs at the Piazza San Marco. Various incentives such as medals for all participants are awarded.
The two-plus, decades-long event was designed to bring participants together in solidarity and to bring attention to the City of Venice. The “Up and Down the Bridges” marathons are truly not competitive; there are no awards for the fastest runners.
Rather, participation in the Su e Zo Par I Ponti is the name of the game as is evident by the majority of the awards which are presented to those with the highest group numbers. One award category includes a special prize for groups from abroad. Here Venice does not want to forget its tourists!
So if your travel to Venice is during the month of April, whether you’re a participant or a spectator of the Su e Zo Par I Ponti, it is sure to be memorable!