This past weekend, Lisa and I went to Venice for Carnival! Carnival is a huge deal in Italy, and though Venice has the largest and most famous festival, my Italian teacher called it calm compared to some of the less touristy celebrations. Apparently many of the other celebrations have huge parades involved floats that are similar to the Rose Parade or the Macy’s Day Parade, and everyone is drunk for about four days straight. However, since we wanted to see both Venice AND Carnivale, we decided to double up and see them both at the same time. The weekend was totally visual, so I’ll let my pictures do most of the talking.
We got to Venice are 10 Saturday morning, after getting up at 5 to get to the train station. The trip took about 3 hours, and we slept for most of the trip. When we arrived in Venice it was cold, rainy, and beautiful. It took us a while to figure out the transportation situation (there are no normal buses here, seeing as the major streets are made of water, so we had to find the right boat to take us to our hostel, which was on a different island than the main island of Venice).
It wasn’t exactly luxury, but we did get huge lockers for our stuff and free breakfast. After checking in we went over to the main island! A few streets away from our waterbus stop was a little mask shop with a really nice woman inside who helped us pick out which to buy. She hand painted the masks herself, and even brought out a mask from the back that was a little different than the one I was considering to see if I liked it better. She told us not to wear the masks until dark (apparently wearing it before dark on the first day of Carnevale just proves you’re a tourist) and we set off!
We tried to find food, but ended up in a pizza place that turned out to be owned by Asians. Lisa and I haven’t gone out to eat that often, but each time we go out we’ve ended up at total non-Italian places (including a really good Turkish restaurant one time where the lady didn’t even really ask what we wanted, just heaped food on our plate and handed it to us). The pizza wasn’t really that good, but it was cheap and huge, so we were content.
After getting lost for a considerable amount of time, we found the Galleria del Accademia that supposedly houses The Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci, and we wandered inside for a couple hours before finding out that the sketch won’t be on display again for another SEVEN TO EIGHT YEARS. On the brochure and on the map I got from the train station, they advertise the museum as housing The Vitruvian Man! It’s the only reason we went to that particular one! You would think they update the brochures more often than every seven to eight YEARS. It didn’t even turn out to be a good museum. The information about the works were all on large cards by the doors of each room that you could carry around with you, and very few rooms had information in English. Frustrating.
Fortunately the general amazingness of Carnevale was free, and I got plenty of pictures of incredible costumes and people:
On Sunday we went inside San Marco Basilica during mass to the museum that is housed above the church. THAT museum was incredible, which really cool information on how the cathedral was built, what the different stages were, what artists and architects contributed, and the various traditions of the priests and cardinals who have been there over the years. Plus, the choir was singing while we were looking around, which was a major plus.
We watched a parade, found gelato, food, and tried Bellini, the signature cocktail of Venice. It’s made from sparkling wine and fruit juice, and is sold in beer sized bottles for a few euro in tabacchi, which are the equivalent of bodegas or delis, kind of. And just so y’all know, Venician men are not above drinking this admittedly girly drink. When a drink is good, it’s good, and they don’t care that it’s totally pink.
Venice was definitely in the top five places I’ve ever been, and thanks to amazing parents and aunties, I’ve been to some incredible places. For more pictures, there’s a whole album on facebook!