14 July 2008

Italian lesson: scarlatto

I have already shown you this, La Serenissima’s splendid flag. I especially like its blood-red foundation, that particular color being my very favorite.

I recently learned that the recipe for the blazing scarlet (scarlatto) dye the Venetian Republic used for the signature color of her official buntings and draperies, as well as her flag, was once a fiercely guarded secret. To keep any would-be snoops away from the dyeworks, city fathers spread false rumors of terrifying hauntings and other horrors in the vicinity.

Lately I’ve had a small terror hanging around, haunting me: the possibility that I might not manage to find a way to stay here in Venice after September. No ghost could possibly cause me more sleeplessness!

I talked about this with a cool-headed Venetian friend, who reminded me that today I don’t really have any idea what will happen in this regard, good or bad, and many things could change between now and October. He suggested I have been stressing myself needlessly, worrying about something that might never even come to pass.

His colorful word for such an unfounded fear as mine: scarlatto.