As with Mardi Gras, Carnevale di Venezia coincides with the beginning of Lent and the Easter Holiday period. The festivities officially begin on 8th February but culminate on the 25th with the grandest celebration of them all. Famous for elaborate masks and elegant parties, there is so much more to see in ‘The Floating City.’ Here are some of our favourites to make the most of your time.
Located on a secluded island in front of the Grand Canal and St Mark’s, this beautiful property was built as a home for noble Venetian families in the 16th century. Renovated to historical perfection, the lavish suites can be rented individually or as a group. Whilst the comfortable rooms may make you feel like you’re simply at home, two excellent onsite restaurants and a spa remind you that this is vacation—relax, and be pampered.
This breathtaking hotel’s home is inside one of the only eight great palazzos located directly on the Grand Canal. Two private gardens and works by some of the most revered Italian artists from the 16th-18th centuries add even more beauty to this property. Original details adorn every room and suite, and the onsite restaurant spotlights sustainable produce and ingredients from local suppliers. Make sure to enjoy a cocktail in the adjacent garden, accompanied by live music.
Il Palazzo Experimental
Featuring bold design elements and a playful sensibility, this hotel has been a welcome new addition to Venice’s hotel scene. Graphic stripes in honour of Venice and patterns in pastel tones adorn every inch of the property. The rooms are well-equipped and comfortable, while the restaurant is in partnership with the celebrated Italian Supper Club.
Don a costume and enjoy the season (we recommend splurging on a special mask from Ca’ Macana)—you’ll feel out of place if you don’t dress up. Many events take place throughout the entire carnival period. Nightly, in Piazza San Marco, there are performances, live music, and DJ sets until around 10pm. Costumes and masks are judged daily in the square, with the winner to be announced on 23rd February—regardless of when you go, expect a dramatic display of extravagant finery.
Historical traditions, such as ‘Volo dell’Angelo,’ the flight of the angel over Piazza San Marco, and ‘Nicolotti e Castellani,’ the reenactment of the historic fights between the houses and neighbourhoods of yore, will happen as well—as will many parades, and the beautiful regatta through the canals.
While many of the main events take place in Piazza San Marco, it’s important to remember things are happening throughout the city—walk through the sestieri, and you’re sure to see many locals in costume celebrating. Also, consider attending a Masquerade Ball. Taking place in different palaces and hotels, on various nights throughout the entire period, these extravagant parties encapsulate the energy and passion of Carnival.
You’re in Italy—eating and drinking should be high on the priority list. To enjoy Cicchetti, Italian tapas-like snacks, like a local, visit Cantina Do Mori. It has been open since 1462, so needless to say, they have perfected the experience. Drink and snack at old school bacari, Al Bottegon. The wine is served in plastic cups, and the Cicchetti is simple but delicious. Practice your Italian with the owner, who is likely to be the one serving you.
Renowned for its seafood, Venice has many restaurants to enjoy the freshest catch. We like Trattoria Alla Madonna, a 60-year-old family-run restaurant that specializes in classically simple Italian preparations of ultra-fresh seafood, preserving its flavour as best possible. Da Ivo, a Tuscan restaurant near St Mark’s Square, is a reliable go-to for classics and updated interpretations of Venetian favourites.
If you have a free day, visit San Michele island. The uninhabited island serves as a cemetery and consists solely of churches and series of tombstones. Peaceful and beautiful, it is worth the short boat ride to stroll through for a few hours.
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