The month of February marks the annual Carnevale di Venezia, or Carnival of Venice. Thousands of people gather in Venice each year for the traditional carnival to see performances, visit the beautiful city and, of course, wear masks! The carnival is full of ornate costumes and beautiful masks. I made sure to take my time when buying my mask. When you have tens of thousands of masks to choose from, you want to get the perfect one.
Venice is probably the most picturesque place I have yet to visit in Italy. There is a canal and bridge around almost every corner. My favorite place in Venice was the famous St. Mark’s Square. This is the only true square (well, rectangle technically) in Venice. It is in this square that I found the most breathtaking view of Venice. We went to the top of the Doge’s Palace tower in the square, from which there is an incredible view of St. Mark’s basilica, the water, and all of the city.
Of course a trip to Venice would not be complete without a gondola ride. Be warned that the price for the gondola ride runs pretty steep, usually about 80 euros, but you can bargain with the gondoliers to lower the price and you can have up to 6 people in one gondola, so if you split the price with a group of friends, it is totally worth it! They usually take you on the Grand Canal and through some other beautiful, smaller canals. You can even get a gondola ride with a man who will SING to you in Italian. It honestly felt like a scene from a movie. If you still want to take a boat on the water but are looking for a cheaper option, try a boat taxi! Since the roads are so tiny in Venice, there are no cars. You can only get around by boat or foot!
Being a water town, Venice is also famous for its seafood. I will admit, parts of the city definitely smelled fishy, but from what I am told that occasional fish stench in February is nothing to the overpowering fish smell in the summer. Regardless, I knew that I need to try a traditional Venetian seafood dish. I ended up trying nero di seppie, which is a pasta dish made with cuttlefish. The spaghetti and sauce is actually totally black because of the ink from the cuttlefish. It may not immediately look appetizing, but, trust me, it is delicious! There are also tons of different kinds of fish pizzas. I have a slight obsession with tuna so I got a pizza covered in onion and tuna. Yes, I ate the entire pizza by myself.
To celebrate the opening of the Carnival, there was a boat parade on one of the canals. There was a beautiful display of costumes, lights, and performances on the boats as tons of spectators squeezing in along the canal to get a glimpse. Probably the most interesting but less traditional “performances” of the weekend was the zombie walk. Tons of people prepared all morning putting on special effects makeup and gory costumes and then walked the streets of Venice. You would have thought you were on The Walking Dead: Venice Edition.
I have to say Venice is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to and I definitely hope to be back to visit its charming canals one day.