Venice, Italy’s Carnevale takes place every year, and millions of people come from all over the globe to participate in the festivities. The event’s history goes back thousands of years to 1162, when the people of Venice gathered to celebrate a battle victory. It was then outlawed in 1797 by the King of Austria, who particularly disliked the masks worn by festival goers.
Carnevale didn’t return until 1979 when Italy’s government was on a quest to restore Venice’s culture and history. Today, Carnevale is most known for its elaborate masks that are donned by those gathering for the celebration. if you plan to experience this incredible event for yourself, here’s a guide to enjoying Carnevale in style.
Where to Stay
Venice has a host of fabulous hotels to choose from, including Hotel Moresco. It sits along the Rio Nuovo canal and is located near many of the city’s most famous sights and attractions. It has a lovely secluded garden area as well as a guest lounge, library, and coffee bar. The rooms at Hotel Moresco are elegant and include a number of amenities such as flat screen televisions, Nespresso machines, complimentary WiFi and breakfast, and minibars. The rate per night starts at $318.
For a touch of opulence during your stay in Venice for Carnevale, there’s Hotel Londra Palace. The 19th century hotel is close to Piazza San Marco and faces the nearby lagoon. Rooms in this grand hotel are beautiful and ornate, with sumptuous fabrics lining the walls, fine furniture, and marble en-suite bathrooms. Amenities include minibars, satellite TV channels, free WiFi access, a complimentary breakfast buffet, and luxe toiletries. The nightly rate at Hotel Londra Palace starts at $542.
One of the most exclusive and luxurious hotels in the city is the five-star Gritti Palace, which costs $4,241 per night. It’s held inside a palazzo from the 15th century and is close to the Bridge of Sighs and Piazza San Marco. The atmosphere is quite lavish with a bevy of chandeliers, art, and rare antiques. Its themed suites have sweeping balconies, separate living areas, and views of the canal. Amenities available on-site include the Gritti Palace cooking school, bar and lounge, terrace restaurant, spa, and a fully equipped gym.
Fabulous Things to See
Venice is one of Italy’s most historically and culturally rich cities, so there’s plenty to do and see. St. Mark’s Basilica is a prominent Italo-Byzantine cathedral in the city that’s located in the heart of Piazza San Marco. San Marco Campanile is the bell tower of St. Mark’s Basilica and is one of the most famous sights in Venice — history lovers and those who are fans of architecture will enjoy touring both places.
One of Venice’s Gothic landmarks that visitors attending Carnevale often stop to see is Doge’s Palace, which is connected to both of the aforementioned sites. It contains a museum and holds a wealth of incredible artifacts and pieces of visual art. One of the corridors inside of Doge’s Palace leads to the Bridge of Sighs and was built in 1614. The name of this iconic location came from the fact that it used to sit over prison cells. Those held on the property would look out over the bridge and sigh as they reminisced about their lost freedom.
A very popular museum in Venice is the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, a modern art venue that showcases 20th century European and American artwork. Some of the artists featured include Jackson Pollock, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, and Max Ernst. The eclectic collection there used to belong to the late Peggy Guggenheim, who was friends with a slew of famed artists. A wonderful sculpture garden is also on-site.
Those who want to experience the opera while in town for Carnevale can head to Teatro La Fenice, one of the most important elements of Italy’s theatrical history. Not only are the performances there amazing, the venue itself is breathtaking. It underwent a $100.7 million reconstruction in 2001 and reopened to the public in 2003 boasting better acoustics and a brighter interior. Orchestra, opera, and drama performances are held at Teatro la Fenice throughout the year, including during Carnevale.
The Best Dining in Venice
Italy is famous around the globe for its delicious and healthy cuisine, and while you’re in the area for Carnevale you’ll be tempted to taste all of the delicacies that the city has to offer. Venice is home to the oldest cafe in the world, Caffe Florian, which first opened in 1720. Dining in such a storied place is an experience like no other, and its interior is filled with art and Neo-Baroque elements. The coffee, classic Italian bites and snacks, and cocktails served there are exquisite.
If you prefer dining in a rustic atmosphere with plenty of charm and character, try Al Covo. The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating, which is perfect during Carnevale season. Al Covo’s menu features classic Venetian fare and seafood dishes including fried zucchini blossoms with mint and buffalo ricotta, house made pasta, and wild sea bass salad. When you dine there, it truly is an event in and of itself.
Another excellent eatery in Venice is the ever-stylish Ristorante La Caravella, which is located near St. Mark’s Square. Interesting decor, tables set inside a lush garden, and a menu of delicious dishes makes it one of the most sought after places to dine in the city. Examples of menu specialties includes flavor packed Venetian style fish soup, spider crab accented with fine extra virgin olive oil and lemon sauce, and roasted turbot with potatoes and olives.
Hotel Moresco – http://www.hotelmorescovenice.com/en/
Hotel Londra Palace – http://www.londrapalace.com/
The Gritti Palace – http://www.thegrittipalace.com/
San Marco Campanile & Saint Mark’s Basilica – http://www.basilicasanmarco.it/?lang=en
Doge’s Palace – http://palazzoducale.visitmuve.it/
Peggy Guggenheim Collection – http://www.guggenheim-venice.it/
Teatro La Fenice – http://www.teatrolafenice.it/site/index.php
Caffe Florian – http://www.caffeflorian.com/en/venice/florian-venice-menu.html
Al Covo – http://ristorantealcovo.com/
Ristorante La Caravella – http://www.restaurantlacaravella.com/