To visit Venice at any time in your life is such a memorable experience. To visit the `Queen of the Adriatic` during the annual Carnevale di Venezia is an undeniably distinctive and special occasion. Venice has a unique atmosphere at this notable time of year.
There is a genuine festive atmosphere around the city and the hundreds of dramatically-costumed carnival-goers draped in colourful cloaks and elaborate masks adds a mysterious, haunting and evocative spectacle to the scene.
The Carnival takes place in February during the days leading up to Shrove Tuesday and ends with the Mardi Gras (Martedì Grasso) the day before Ash Wednesday.
The 2016 Carnival took place between 23rd January – 9th February. If you’ve always had a secret hankering to dress up and wear fancy silks and clothing then the Carnival is for you! It is the perfect opportunity to indulge in your fantasies without attracting too many stares! Face masks, elaborate cloaks, colourful wigs, hats and head dresses can easily be purchased at the many tourist shops and souvenir stalls.
Costumed characters stroll and lounge on the bridges and squares of the city preening and posturing for tourists. They will happily pose for photographs and `selfies` as they parade throughout the day at all of the major sights and attractions.
One of the things you have to do when you visit Venice with a loved one is to take a Gondola ride. Even if I am fortunate enough to visit Venice another time I don’t suppose I shall ever again step foot into a gondola as it`s one of those `one – off` experiences you do knowing that you probably won`t do it again!
For about 35-minutes at some great expense my wife and I shared a gondola and admired the Rialto Bridge, Palazzo Barberino, Bridge of Sighs and all of the other romantic landmarks as our Gondolier navigated the Grand Canal and smaller waterways of the city. It really is a memorable experience.
A little disappointingly we were not treated to the dulcet tones of our gondolier along the way and he wasn’t wearing the traditional striped jersey or straw hat either! Nevertheless, I came, I saw and got the Tee shirt`. If you visit Venice today you may even have a female Gondolier at the helm of your flat bottomed boat – the first woman being appointed in 2010.
I had heard a lot about Harry’s Bar which is a bar and restaurant located at Calle Vallaresso because it had been visited many times by one of my favourite authors the American Ernest Hemingway amongst many other famous visitors.
I ordered a Bellini cocktail which consists of puréed white peaches and `Prosecco` the Italian sparkling wine.The Bellini had been invented by Giuseppe Cipriani founder of the bar in Venice so this really was the place to have my first. The story is that he named the drink the Bellini because its unique pink color reminded him of the toga of a saint in a painting by 15th-century Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini. . Good story, nice drink!
The Grand Canal, lagoon shores and surrounding islands are well-served by waterbuses or vaporetti and the faster motoscafi. Away from the large waterways the best way to explore the city is on foot so wear a practical pair of walking shoes when exploring the smaller alleys and canals. Carrying a small water bottle is always a useful thing to do too particularly in the summer months.
Do not expect to travel in a direct line or as quickly as you would in a normal city. In Venice expect the unexpected! All water vehicles including water taxis must follow the navigable canals so journeys can be slow. The Grand Canal winds through Venice like an inverted ‘S’, and the vaporetti will take some time to travel across the city.
Walking can throw up similiar problems.Several times my wife and I walked along a maze of alleys only to come across a dead-end and had to retrace our steps back to find a bridge to get across an unexpected canal. It is always useful to carry a map and use it!
It is possible to walk Venice solely on foot but if you are staying for any length of time I would suggest you invest in a one day or three day vaporetto travel card for convenience and to save money. When your feet are hurting from all the walking it is wonderful to sit down and admire the view from the outdoor seat of a boat. It is also the best way to see the whole of the Grand Canal and Venice.
I have only been to Venice once – I must get back there very soon because it has so much to offer and i have only scratched the surface of this wonderful city.
James William Davis
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