There are some must-dos on my list after moving to Italy, one of them is to see the Venetian Carnival. The hand-made sophisticated masks and those eyes hidden behind had been fascinating me since long time.
This year the Venetian Carnival falls between 23 January to 9 February. Having the willingness of my parents-in-law to take our son for the whole weekend, and my husband’s passion of playing his new toy: SONY digital camera, there is no better chance to see the carnival this year! Last weekend I hopped on the train again. This time with my husband, to see Venice at the most crazy, bizarre, and fabulous time of the year!
Arriving at late Friday night, we spent Saturday and half Sunday in Venice exploring the city enveloped in festival vibe.
SATURDAY | A Photo Walk in Cannaregio
Before going to San Marco, we prepared ourselves by taking a slow walk in the Cannaregio, the second largest district by land in Venice.
Started from the Santa Lucia train station, we headed into Cannaregio along the main street, then entered deep into the small alleys. Cannaregio is the district with the largest population in Venice. The deeper we walked into the area, the more we could tell it was a place more for resident: less commercial, laundries hanging around, surrounded by quietness.
We spent more than one hour wandering around Cannaregio before heading towards San Marco
The biggest surprise we got from our photo walk is this portrait of Guerrino Lovato, a master of the Venetian Mask who has his mask manufacturing business in Mondo Novo.
SATURDAY | Join The Crowds in Piazza San Marco
We were lucky to arrive in Venice one day before the opening of the Carnival. The streets were already filled with people, and many masked costumes could be spotted around Piazza San Marco. However it was still comfortable to move around, rather than being pushed around and squeezed between shoulders.
Following the stream of people along the main street from Cannaregio, we found ourselves in San Marco with many dressed up Carnival fans.
The Best Masked Costume Contest was held in Piazza San Marco, therefore many competitors were showing their artworks, aka the handmade costumes, around the square.
I was fascinated by those delicate outfits with lace, beads, and detailed fabrics! And also those eyes behind the masks!!! They are just mysteriously charming!
One of my favorites goes to this Van Gogh! You could tell the costume cost lots of diligence, and also the way he showed his work was a performance!
Many booths with manufacturers of gondola, shoes, hat, carpet, Venetian costume, etc, were set up around Piazza San Marco, showing how they make their products like the way they did back in the 18th century.
Carnevale di Venezia
SATURDAY | A Simple Late Lunch in Castello at CONCA D’ORO
Within 10 minute walk from Piazza San Marco, we sat down for a late lunch at 2pm in CONCA D’ORO.
After the whole morning walking outside, all I craved for was a plate of hot pasta! And CONCA D’ORO did a great job to satisfy me. The seafood was fresh and tasty, a little bit salty though. But for me, who come from a place in China where pickles and dipping sauce are most welcomed, I don’t mind to have a little overdose of salt from time to time.
Address: Castello 4338, 30122 Venezia
Social Media: Facebook
SUNDAY | Discover The Best Venetian Souvenir Furlane Slippers At Pied A Terre
Sunday (31 January) was the official opening day of the Carnival. Floods of people were found while we walked towards Piazza San Marco. This year the security control is more serious than before: there were only five entrances opened to go into the piazza, and you must take off your mask when passing the security check. You need to be very patient to go in, and as well to come out. Since our train back to Florence was booked at 14:30, and we didn’t want to take the risk of missing it, me and my husband decided to skip San Marco (a pity though) and stay in the outer area.
While walking in San Polo, we were attracted by a shop named Pied a Terre selling traditional Venetian Furlane Slippers. The vibrant colors and the cute shape of the shoes pulled me into the shop.
Originally the Furlane Slippers were hand-made by women from Friuli-Venezia Giulia (the north-east countryside of Veneto). After the II World War, they started to bring the products to Venice and sold them to the Venetian women. It boomed and stays popular in Venice until today.
The sole is made of recycled bicycle tires, which makes the slippers slip resistant. The design combining tradition and fashion also makes it a good wear for outdoor. Nowadays the Furlane Slippers has gained popularity among Venetian people, especially those living in countryside, actors, architects, and many French.
The slippers cost €39 – €69 each pair, a great option for souvenir and gift from Venice
There are also non 100% hand-made collections, which are as fancy as others.
This shop in San Polo is the only one Pied a Terre has. However they accept order-to-make from direct customers. If you like either particular style, you are welcome to contact them online and place an order of your own.
PIED A TERRE
Address: Rialto, San Polo 60
SUNDAY | A Quick Bite in Ostaria dai Zemei Before Heading Back
Our last stop in Venice was Ostaria dai Zemei for a quick lunch. The restaurant was opened by two brothers: Franco and Giovanni ten years ago. Nowadays you still find them working in the restaurant serving customers.
The two brothers have invented a menu with tons of selections for crostini, a small piece of bread with different toppings, which reminds me the Japanese Sushi! Each of them looked interesting, and I lost a little control of appetite for having six by myself!
My favorite is this one with spicy salami, chilli sauce and red pepper on top, which lighted on a small fire in my mouth.
If you found yourself wanting a bite of streetfood on the way to San Marco, consider this Osteria. Three crostini + a glass of wine + sit down at the table outdoor = PERFETTO!
Ostaria dai Zemei
Address: San Polo 1045, Venezia
Of course I am not leaving this post without a photo of the Carnival on the official opening day! I found this stunning photo from one of my favorite Instagrammers @neumarc, taken at the moment of the angel flying down from the S.Mark’s Bell Tower (Campanile di San Marco)!
Arrivederci Venezia! Hope to catch up again soon!