Carnevale. Carne. Vale. Carne= meat. Vale= Go. Meat goes.
Normally you wouldn’t catch me anywhere near a festival that celebrated the disappearance of meat- in fact, you’re likely to find me huddled on a street corner holding out my index fingers in an X sign at it- but for Venice’s 2013 Mardi Gras celebration, I was willing to make an exception. After all, this is the city that’s managed to literally walk on water for a couple of centuries now. They want to go vegetarian for 40 days? Fine by me. (Sudden thought: maybe the reason WHY they’ve managed to stay afloat for so long is because they’re super lightweight from lack of protein? Investigate.)
ANYWAY. I certainly will not condone a meatless holiday, no matter how many centuries and religions incorporate it into their lifestyles. That sounds like healthy living and I’ll have no part in that. However, I am more than willing to accept a two-week festival in which dressing up in 17th century garb and going about your business at H&M or whatever is perfectly normal. With that thought in mind, I headed to San Marco last weekend with a couple of pals to partake in the festivities. Between hanging out at the Doce’s palace, flailing outside of St. Mark’s Basilica like some kind of demented worm and dancing at piazzas whose names I quite frankly have no interest in remembering, I had a magical time. Here are some tips to ensure you will too.
1. Keep it rull
As in, see as much of the real Venice as you can. With the rise of a little thing called the internet, travel is now easier than ever… which unfortunately means plagues of fanny-packed tourists and so many souvenir shops that it can all start to seem a little Eurodisney after a couple of hours. I managed to catch a play about the history of Venice (Whatever, I’m a huge nerd, sue me) and if the British actors are anything to go by, the city has an amazing history that borders on the magical. Like, did you know Venetians used to just wear masks all the time during the winter months before Mardi Gras? You could do whatever you wanted and no one would know your identity. You could commit murder! You could have a passionate love affair! YOU COULD READ 50 SHADES OF GREY WITHOUT BLUSHING 50 SHADES OF SHAME. And did you know that Saint Mark didn’t even die in Venice? This prophecy foretold that Marky Mark would die in Venice, but when he didn’t, some randos stole his remains and hid them in baskets under meat that was considered unholy for the Muslim populations at the time (that way they wouldn’t get searched), and brought him back to Venice. And let’s not even mention the fact that Casanova practically coined the term “sex addict” here. As far as I’m concerned, 18th century Venice was practically Vegas. And you should see most of it.
2. With all the madness of different languages being thrown around (Southern English, Australian English, and British English) and the mess of winding streets seemingly constructed before a time when street signs were invented, locate the nearest thing that feels like home and cling to it desperately when things get too unfamiliar.
3. Dress up!
Everyone does it and you will look like an idiot if you don’t. 18th century garb is preferred, but we spotted a couple of hippies, a nun, and some loaves of bread.
EXTRA: Don’t Panic!
Venice is beautiful but can be extremely frustrating to navigate with its clogged up streets and confusing water buses. Make sure to allow for ample time to get to everywhere you want to go. Like your flight. Which we missed. 9:15AM FLIGHTS AND CARNEVALE NIGHTS DO NOT MIX. REMEMBER THIS. But most of all remember THIS: enjoy yourself. Life is short, and the Venetians knew this. Why else do you think they practically coined the term YOLO? So do yourself a favor and take it all in.
FLORENCE! Forgive the caps, but I’m making my trip to Tuscany to visit my friend and slight soulmate Chrissie, who’s a MICA student studying abroad at the same time as me. Look forward to lots of shrieking and men-bashing (it’s Valentine’s Day, after all!)
1. I will laugh inappropriately at The David for about 0.34 minutes. I’m sorry but I’m only human
2. I will cry at the mere sight of Brunelleschi’s dome and Ghiberti’s “Doors to Paradise” (why do I CRY so much lately? You’d think I was a character in “Perks of Being a Wallflower”)
3. I will shower Showtime and HBO with requests for a minseries on the Medici family. Come on, they’ve done The Tudors and The Borgias, this is not an extraordinary request.