Party in Rialto for Marco Zennaro. Hugs, choirs and banners: “Thank you Venice!”

VENICE – Hugs and tears surrounded Marco Zennaro with affection, yesterday afternoon in Campo San Bortolomio. The friends were summoned by the word of mouth of Sebastiano Costalonga and Andrea Chinellato. A hundred people, with both rowing and rugby companions, gathered on the pitch, unfolding the banner Marco is free on the ground, right in front of his windows on the second floor of an apartment overlooking the Rialto bridge. At 5.30 pm Marco appeared, also spreading a sheet with the words Grazie Venezia, which was applauded for a long time.


Then, in a black jacket and jeans, he went down among his friends, with his eldest son. The first hug went to Stefano Zanchetto, a childhood friend: «They were months of great concern – said Zanchetto – I was in contact with Marco even when he was in prison and I was trying to strengthen him. We friends were his release valve and he told us things too bad and hard to confide in his wife. They have been cynical and treacherous, making him glimpse the way out to freedom, to shut it in his face every time. Even the permission to keep the cell phone as a recluse, if on the one hand it allowed him to stay in touch with the world, on the other it was an additional means of pressure to ask for money ».


A hug for everyone, words of relief and happiness. Marco appeared in good condition, certainly lost weight. To those who pointed this out to him, he would answer ironically: “Yes, I made myself two plastics.” His son was also smiling: «It was a surprise – he says without any shyness – because they didn’t tell me anything about my father’s return. I am so happy. He is never strict, he is a very good dad ». Among his friends also the rowing champion Vito Redolfi Tezzat: «We met at Canottieri Giudecca – he remembers – a friendship was born immediately. Marco is tenacious, and when he row he never gives up ». It’s over, many screamed. «Yes, it’s finally over – Zennaro repeated with them – it’s your merit if I’m here. I bear no grudges towards anyone. I only thank Venice and all those who helped me ». Then everyone headed to the fish market, where a small DJ station was set up to make further party. With a glass of beer in hand, Marco Zennaro shared his first impressions of the return and how it was received.


«In Sudan they told me that there are Italians who have never returned home. You go to jail for a trifle and there are people in prison for months who don’t even know why. The courts of Kartum are crumbling: there are no computers, paper, and they overwrite the sentences on used sheets. In addition, there are several electricity blackouts during the day. For my departure, only a stamp was missing. There was no light and everyone stopped work, postponing it to the next day. Paradoxically, the most difficult days were the last, when various adversities prevented my return. I felt like I was living inside a dramatic joke ».
«I am very grateful to the Emergency doctors who came to prison to visit me and vaccinate me, as well as Mario Pozza, president of Unioncamere, who immediately took action to collect the money the Sudanese authorities wanted. There are many people I have to thank from the heart; now I will have time to contact them one by one. As soon as I arrived, I immediately wanted to immerse myself in the routine of every day: for example, I took my son to undergo a tampon. While I was detained, I was able to see hundreds of boats in the Grand Canal for myself. There I said to myself: Venice is waiting for you, you have to get out of here. Feeling the Venetians close to me gave me strength, the awareness of my roots, of a specific belonging. This is what Venice can do, always active and supportive. What has been organized for me must be an example for those who denigrate the city and its sociability, even if there are few of us left. Perhaps we should better converge this active city. I’ll be in the office tomorrow. To keep myself in training, I used to shoot boxing, a sport that I have come to appreciate, even if I can’t wait for a nice row in la valesana ».