Venice (Part V): Carnival Weekend

Venice, Italy

————————————————————————————————————————————

Venice and the Carnevale

Last weekend was the opening weekend of Carnevale di Venezia. It is the major annual event that begins a couple months before Easter and lasts until Fat Tuesday–the Tuesday before Lent. Carnevale is most known for its incredible costumes and masks. The original meaning of the masks is that everyone would use the period of the Carnival to “mask” their social classes–so the rich could behave poorer, and vice versa.

Many people compare this celebration to Mardi Gras in the United States, but I felt that Carnevale is much different from that Mardi Gras that I know. The festivities have a greater connection with its history, and the emphasis is more oriented around family and culture rather than a LETS GET TRASHED AND GO CRAZY attitude. It was an awesome experience, full of energy and rich with culture.

Ciao! The city of Venice was dusted in snow on the opening morning of Carnevale--very unusual weather! The lagoon was partially frozen too, for the first time in ~50 years!

———————————————–

A crowded, energetic St. Mark's Square

———————————————–

The entire city was decorated for the spirit of Carnevale

———————————————–

While we restrained from splurging on a gondola ride, it was nice to see them operating despite the cold weather

———————————————–

Always look up!

———————————————–

The streets were FULL of vendors and shops filled with displays of beautiful masks to purchase for the Carnival. The shopkeepers took lots of pride in the fact their their masks are authentically made in Venice, rather than imported or whatnot. ("NOT FROM CHINA--MADE HERE!")

———————————————–

Ready to mask myself with my first souvenir from Italia!

 ———————————————–

———————————————–

The stage set-up in St. Mark's Square mimicked an old theatre

 ———————————————–

My favorite photo.

 ———————————————–

The emcees on the stage got us dancing in the piazza to all the Italian hit songs!

———————————————–

When off in the sidestreets of Venice, Chelsea and I heard a deep drumming from a distance. Following the sound led us to this awesome drum performance. This performance represents what is probably my favorite aspect of Carnevale--that so much of the festivities is created BY the people FOR the people. Carnevale is not dependent upon hired entertainers--it's the people themselves who provide the entertainment with their awesome costumes, spontaneous music performances and everything else. It's an awesome energy and spirit 😀

———————————————–

———————————————–

———————————————–

The Flight of the Angel

The opening of Carnevale kicks off with “the flight of the angel” ceremony, in which a [very brave] woman descends from St. Mark’s Campanile.

The bell tower rang as the "angel" prepared to take her "flight" --How thrilling!

———————————————–

She's ballsy.

———————————————–

———————————————–

...So graceful

Crazy Carnevale Costumes

One of the coolest parts of Carnevale is seeing the amazing costumes that attendees wear. Everyone can buy a mask, but these full costumes are something really special. I tried to catch as many shots as I could!

———————————————–

———————————————–

———————————————–

———————————————–

———————————————–

———————————————–

———————————————–

———————————————–

Well, that concludes my Venice series! Florence life is hopping, so I have lots to catch up on for sharing. Ciao for now 🙂

 ———————————————–

Advertisements

Venice (Part IV): Burano, “The Island of Painted Houses”

Venice, Italy

————————————————————————————————————————————

Burano, “The Island of Painted Houses”

Meandering through the little pathways of the tiny island of Burano in Veneto is like walking into a fairytale land. As the nickname “The Island of Painted Houses” suggests, Burano is the picturesque small town known for its brightly-colored houses lining the canals. (Burano is also known for its lace products, which I didn’t even tempt myself with by avoiding the beautiful lace shops). Even with the gloomy weather, Chelsea and I were overcome with little-kid spirit as we joyously ventured through this compact town of colors.

———————————————–

We had fun losing ourselves in a town too tiny to get lost in 🙂

———————————————–

———————————————–

Chelsea cartwheeling through the quiet, quaint pathways. There is something about Burano that will bring out the little kid in you.

———————————————–

Too chilly for boat rides, but it must be beautiful in the spring weather!

———————————————–

Residents' laundry hanging from windows and lines. The neighborhood was so silent that it was almost spooky--like a ghost town. Perhaps it is simply because of the cold weather. I couldn't help wondering what the lives of these residents are like, though...living in such an incredibly small town that is constantly visited by tourists. I wonder what their sentiments are towards the visitors, and I wonder how much of their time is spent on the island of Burano versus other places in Veneto across the lagoon.

———————————————–

I could wall-kick my way up some of these pathways 😛

———————————————–

There is one main street of the city, lined with adorable shops and caffes.

———————————————–

Many of the window displays and shops were full of masks for Carnevale.

———————————————–

NEVERLAND! "I will never grow up..."

———————————————–

Ciao! 😀

Check back for Venice: Part V about the Carnevale.

Venice (Part III): Murano glass-making

Venice, Italy

————————————————————————————————————————————

Murano glass-making

The island of Murano in Veneto is also called “The Glass Island.” It is famous for its art of glass-making. Our group visited the main glass-making factory in Venice, where we saw a demonstration of the glass-making process and then were tantalized by a myriad of stunning glass products to purchase–jewelery, vases, dishes, figurines, lamps and more. We were already offered a discount, but I am proud to say that I managed to bargain my way to some even lower prices–my first true bargaining experience with an Italian shopkeeper 😀

These glass horse figurines filled many shelves of the shop, and I've not only noticed them in Murano and the city of Venice, but in Florence as well. At the end of the glass-making demonstration, the artist quickly created this glass horse in under one minute, like it was nothing.

———————————————–

The glass-making process demonstrated involves inflating molten glass into a bubble using a tube, and then using air and tools to shape the glass.

———————————————–

At this factory, the artists still use the glass-blowing method, using their own human breath to blow air through the tube to inflate the molten glass.

———————————————–

It is amazing to see the beautiful creations that that bubble will transform into.

———————————————–

Glass aquarium decorations--one of the many amazing creations we saw (and one of our favorites!)

Check back for Venice: Parts IV and V about 4) Burano (“The Island of Painted Houses”) and 5) the Carnevale.

Venice (Part II): Venetian cuisine

Venice, Italy

————————————————————————————————————————————

Venetian cuisine

Credit: amoitaly.com

The city of Venice’s cuisine is best known for its seafood, since it sits right on the water and is populated by so many sailors. On our second day in Venice, Chelsea and I came across a little hole-in-the-wall seafood place. It didn’t seem too impressive at first glance–just a counter with mysterious seafood dishes to choose from. But we spotted a door deeper in, which led to a  small, delightful caffe area with seating. It had brick walls, a cozy atmosphere, a friendly chef, and a blackboard listing some very college budget-friendly prices for these  special Venetian dishes. We tried the fish lasagna and the scampi with saur. The fish lasagna was a warm dish prepared very similarly to classic lasagna (with tomato sauce, cheese and all), but it incorporated seafood. It didn’t taste fishy, though–certainly like seafood, but not overwhelmingly fishy at all. It may sound gross, but it was incredibly delicious. The scampi and saur is a shrimp and onion dish with vinegar that dates way back in the history of Venetian cuisine. As I learned in my cooking class, this dish was historically important because it provided excellent nourishment for sailors, and didn’t spoil too quickly. While I didn’t particularly favor the taste, it was interesting to try–especially after reading about it for class.

The sweets of Venice are some of the most delicious treats I've ever tasted. At our Carnevale dinner, we were served this assortment of traditional Venetian desserts--tiramisu, crapfen (fried dough ball with cream filling) and galani (flakey, crispy fried dough flats). When our group was walking to an art museum deeper in the city of Venice the next day, we passed this idyllic little sweets shop tucked away on a narrow pathway. The aroma of butter, chocolate, sugar and fried dough pervaded through the little street as we passed through. Chelsea and I were so determined to relocate this shop once we had free roaming time, that we ventured back into that maze of little streets to hunt it down. The quest was a success! I had the galani, which absolutely melted in my mouth. Molto delizioso!

———————————————–

"FORMAGGIO!"

———————————————–

For my first meal in Venice, I played it safe by sharing a quattro-formaggio pizza with friends. (With a 5am wake-up and day of traveling, some comfort food was very much desired). As I learned in my Food of Italy class, Asiago is a main cheese in Venice, and there was delicious Gorgonzola cheese on the pizza as well.

———————————————–

Our traditional Venetian Carnevale dinner consisted of four courses--an antipasto, a risotto, a stuffed chicken dish, and the dessert plate described in the first photo. The appetizer was a delicious warm artichoke and cheese dish, and the stuffed chicken course was like a blend of sausage and chicken. My favorite piatta (besides the dessert) was the risotto, shown here. This creamy rice dish was prepared in a special Carnevale way, with pumpkin and squash.

Check back for Venice: Parts III,  IV and V about 3) Murano glass-making, 4) Burano (“The Island of Painted Houses”) and 5) the Carnevale.

Venice (Part I): St. Mark’s Square & Basilica

Venice, Italy

  • Part I: St. Mark’s Square & Basilica
  • Part II: Venetian cuisine
  • Part III: Murano glass-making
  • Part IV: Burano, “The Island of Painted Houses”
  • Part V: Carnival Weekend

————————————————————————————————————————————

Four layers of clothing & ninja-style scarf-wearing, and we're ready for our boat ride across the lagoon to Venezia!

Introduction

My weekend in Venice (February 11-12th) will always remain one of my favorite memories.

Despite the unusually cold weather (we saw the lagoon freeze for the first time in ~50 years), Chelsea and I had an amazing time. We captured the picturesque sights of the islands and canals, visited churches and museums, learned how the artisans of Murano craft glass, tasted traditional Venetian dishes, and took part in the festivities of Carnevale.

While the pictures cannot possibly convey the true beauty and spirit of Venice, hopefully they can share a glimpse of this wonderful experience 🙂

—————————————————————————

Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square)

St. Mark’s Square is the most stunning piazza I could imagine. When arriving to this main island of Venice, the dock area on the water is lined with adorable shops, restaurants and hotels. As you walk towards the Piazza San Marco, the buildings, statues, canal views and architecture suddenly surround you and can take your breath away. (I must admit, the sunlight–which we didn’t experience until the afternoon of Day 2–makes the views so much more beautiful than the gloomy sky backdrop in some of these photos).

St. Mark's Campanile - The bell tower is over 300 feet tall. In Part 4 of this Venice series, you'll see pictures of "the flight of the angel" Carnevale opening ceremony, when a woman took a "flight" from the balcony of the campanile!

——————–

Ciao! The cold weather could not possibly dampen my mood for this trip 🙂

——————–

Palazzo Ducale - It took over a century to construct the Doge's Palace (the Duke's Palace), which is a stunning example of Gothic architecture from the 14th century.

——————–

Torre dell'Orologio - The Clock Tower of Venice is so magnificent that legends say the engineers and designers had their eyes gouged out afterwards to assure that no other city could possibly acquire such a wonder 😮

——————–

Throughout Venice, the winged lion is the most prevalent animal symbol, representing St. Mark the Evangelist. Horses are another animal symbol, though, particularly found at the Church of St. Mark. They hold a symbolic history of Venetian independence and power, dating back to tales of war booty from Constantine's hippodrome during the fourth Crusade in 1204.

Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco (The Church of St. Mark)

St. Mark’s Basilica is absolutely unbelievable. It’s a Roman Catholic church of Byzantine and Gothic architecture built in the early 11th century, and “divine” is really the most appropriate adjective to describe it. The intricate structure and decorations of the exterior blew me away, and then the immense mosaic and details of the interior completely mesmerized me.

St. Mark's Basilica

 ——————–

St. Mark's Basilica - Waiting in line to enter the cathedral was a pleasure, because even the exterior of the building is extraordinary. I couldn't believe the details in the columns and paintings.

——————–

St. Mark's Basilica

——————–

St. Mark's Basilica - An amazing gold mosaic decorates ~8,000 square-meters of the intricate ceilings and walls.

——————–

St. Mark's Basilica - The horses of St. Mark

——————–

St. Mark's Basilica - The downstairs level is covered in Gothic decorations. It's hauntingly beautiful, filling you with this reflective feeling of awe.

——————–

From inside the Basilica, you can access the balcony to see beautiful views of St. Mark's Square.

Check back for Venice: Parts II, III, IV and V about 2) Venetian cuisine, 3) Murano glass-making, 4) Burano (“The Island of Painted Houses”), and 5) the Carnevale.