We went to Carnevale di Venezia, the Carnival of Venice, an annual festival held in Venice, Italy. The carnival takes place each year in February and continues on for two weeks. Most know the world famous carnival for the masquerade masks, venetian costumes, and grand balls. Besides balls, there are a host of events throughout the festival as well.
Our Venice trip was for the first weekend of the carnival (February 7-10, 2020). We were quite lucky to have booked the first weekend and to have been able to enjoy carnival in 2020, because Venice ended up ending cancelling the rest of carnival due to COVID-19.
We flew to Venice from Geneva on an early Friday morning. Upon arrival, we took a bus that transferred us from the an airport, over a bridge, and off at the bus/ferry terminal in Venice.
From there, we hopped on a ferry to head towards the Rialto Bridge. The place that we stayed at is actually right next to this bridge. It was the cheapest place that I could find with a view of the Grand Canal from our room, especially during carnival (€289.50 for 3 nights at Magic Rialto).
Our Friday was quite simple. We spent the morning in our room working. But during lunch time, we did go out for a walk to check out the canals, and boy was Venice filled with them.
For lunch, we went to Trattoria Pizzeria Da Mamo. It was fairly close to where we were staying, but because of all the small alleyways, it can be difficult to navigate! We even ended up on the wrong entrance to the restaurant and had to find our way to the otherside, which was a pain (thanks Google).
The food was good and very affordable, especially considering that it’s seafood pasta. The 3 dishes below were €12-16 each.
The rest of our afternoon was back in our room to finish up on some projects. This is a shot of the hallway right next to where we were staying.
Once our workday was over, we headed back out to take a sunset stroll. Venice is quite famous for their gondolas. You can take a private gondola ride, or share it with what looks like up to 6-8 people! Gondola rides cost €80 for roughly 30 minutes, and more in the evening. We decided to save our money and that the ferry ride was enough.
Walking along the water on Riva degli Schiavoni was lovely. Looking back at my photos now, I can’t believe how well Assassins Creed captured the city of Venezia in their game.
And the stunning Saint Mark’s Basilica.
We continued down along the water as far as we could. You can see the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute from across the water.
There’s something really special and romantic about Venice. We visited the same spots several times over the weekend, but every time felt new. I love these shots by the ferry docks looking over at the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore in the distance.
By evening, we enjoyed the views of the Grand Canal from our room.
Just behind where we were staying is a great area for drinks and casual dining. We wandered into Naranzaria where we had some tapas, Venetian Spritz, Bellini, and local wine.
This was the end of our Friday night. No dinner, just the tapas and drinks.
On Saturday, I wanted to do a kayaking tour, but the company never got back to me. My guess is that tours aren’t offered in the winter time. There wasn’t much of a plan for the day, except to see the opening ceremony for carnival at night.
At least we knew that we wanted some coffee. We found a nice cafe, Goppion Caffetteria, and got some coffee and pastries there.
We later walked around and through a few marketplaces. It’s always fun when there are actually people living their lives and shopping for produce.
Oh, I almost forgot, I also got some piercings done in the morning from UnderSkin. I got 2 upper lobe piercings (1 on each ear) and a forward helix done. I also switched out some old jewelry. The quality and professionalism of the piercing was excellent! I would highly recommend this shop.
For lunch, we found ourselves at Ristorante Da Carletto. We had to wait a little for a table, but not too long since it wasn’t peak hour for lunch yet. This place was quite popular though, and I would recommend that you make a reservation.
Originally, I really wanted to get dressed up and attend a carnival ball in Venice. But all of the balls were super expensive and renting a costume was also just as expensive. In the end, I decided that I didn’t need to experience it and that it wasn’t worth the $$$$.
I did however come across a few amazing mask stores. The level of detail and work on the masks are just remarkable. I really wanted to buy one, but again they could be somewhat expensive. You can however get some decent ones for €30-50. Again, I decided against buying a mask, it was difficult haha. I just know it’s one of those things that would end up collecting dust in my home. The good news is that we did find some masks, and only spent €4 in total for two!
I don’t know why we do this to ourselves, but sometimes we get bored and we just eat more. There’s this nice looking restaurant just outside of where we are staying, right by the water. It looked nice, so we got a table next to the Grand Canal at Ristorante Florida Venezia. Erick got a pizza and I got one of every shellfish that the offered on ice.
At night time, we headed over to Rio di Cannaregio wearing our new masks to check out the opening ceremony show for Carnival. There were two showings, one at 7PM and another at 9PM. We went to the later one.
The amount of crowds and the line to watch the show was intense. I think we waited for close to 2 hours in line, and when we were finally let in, I couldn’t actually see anything.
Basically there was music and boats with different kinds of artistic entertainment going on. It was kind of Cirque du Soleil esque.
The ending was my favorite, when a woman in a red dress came floating in the air while holding what looks like hundreds of balloons. She slowly ascended and descended, twirling and dancing, all the way down the canal. This was so beautiful to watch.
I’m not really sure what I was expecting to see from the show. I’ve read online about some people really loving it and others saying it’s not worth seeing. I think I’m somewhere in the middle. If you have the chance to go, why not. Just don’t expect anything out of this world, or even to see people dressed up! That was a pity.
After the slight disappointment from the night before, I was excited that we would be able to avoid the crowds and watch the Water Parade from our room window. The parade began at 11AM.
We had prepared some wine and snacks in our room, enjoyed the show and the great weather.
The Water Parade wasn’t anything worth going out of your way to watch, but since we were able to actually see the parade, I did enjoy it. Each boat had a different theme, with the passengers in character. Some were quite funny.
The parade was over as soon as it had started, perhaps 10 minutes or so. I actually wish it was longer.
Today we decided to explore some other areas of Venice that we didn’t get a chance to walk yet. We got a small bite of food from Baci & Pasta. They have very delicious and fresh pastas.
For the rest of the day, we literally just wandered around and got lost. Here’s the Libreria Acqua Alta bookshop, apparently a very popular one.
We also ate and drank various items from many different places throughout the day, I can’t even keep track. Everything was good.
Here’s a guy making a paper mache mask in the window of Papier Machè Venezia, right next to the bookshop. I felt slightly uncomfortable standing there watching a stranger, especially because he didn’t seem to like it? But he was next to a window that seemed to have the purpose of gathering onlookers to drum up business…. so, yea, I snapped a photo.
We walked a lot this day, and also back towards Rio di Cannaregio (where we had watched the night time show). There was supposed to be a “Grand Opening” of the carnival on Sunday. I didn’t really see much though. We did however stumble upon a very small second hand event.
As we walked back towards our room to take a rest for the day, we came across an alley that was blocked off by police. It looked like there was a body bag on the floor. We asked a nearby shopkeeper what happened. Someone either jumped or was pushed out a building window and died. Jeez.
To wrap up our trip to Venice for Carnival, I really wanted to be able to see people dressed up. I was kind of sad because the truth is, not many people were dressed up at all. I’m not sure if it was because we were attending the first weekend or what not (most balls aren’t held the first weekend), but there was only a very small handful dressed. Most of which could only be found at Piazza San Marco. It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t get dressed up, haha. But maybe I’d come back again in the future with my own homemade attire.
I wanted to have a last meal in Venice, so we went to Osteria Bancogiro for dinner. The downstairs atmosphere was really nice, but we were brought to sit by ourselves upstairs instead. It was super warm up there, but at least we had privacy? The food was good, just a little pricey though.
All in all, our first trip ever to Venice, Italy was great. And getting to see Carnival in Venice made it all the more interesting. Honestly, I always hear how crowded and unpleasant Venice can be in the summer. I can imagine, there really isn’t much room to walk. We were completely fine with the crowds that we encountered, given that it was Carnival, I actually would have expected a lot more people!
Bottomline, would I go back to Venice? Yes, I would, it’s a very beautiful city. There’s lots to see, and I’d love to explore the other areas surrounding Venice as well.
See you in the next post!