The morning began before the sun rose as Charlotte and I elected to take one of the earliest trains leaving from
. This was partially by choice and also because the majority of seats on trains headed to Lodi had been sold out days before the actual event itself. As we watched the train cars fill up with various excited tourists and Italians carrying bags of costumes, we sleepily discussed our expectations for the day. Like me, Venice Charlotte had been warned by friends to avoid during Carnevale. We had been told that people would be crowded into every inch of the city and that if claustrophobia didn’t ruin our day, the ridiculous prices certainly would. Thankfully, when the train pulled into Santa Lucia station less than three hours later we quickly discovered how wrong Venice ’s critics were. Venice
From the moment we stepped off the train, our senses were instantly bombarded from all directions. There were crowds of costumed people chattering happily amongst one another, groups of casually dressed foreigners laughed and took photographs as they put on their souvenir masks for the very first time and brightly coloured trinkets were available for purchase all around us. We hadn’t even left the station and already Charlotte and I were fans of
Another affordable souvenir that
is famous for is its hand-blown glass. After purchasing several masks for friends and family, I couldn’t resist also buying a few glass figurines and some jewellery, all for only three Euros! As the hours passed by Charlotte and I noted that it would be easy to come to Venice , spend the whole day shopping and not even see any of the beautiful sights that have gained the city notoriety. After exiting what seemed like the hundredth store, we made a pact to head in the direction of Piazza di San Marco before spending any more money. Venice
Amongst the architecture were the people who injected colour and life to the otherwise grey afternoon. Many present were wearing outfits that ranged from traditional to a more modern Halloween style of dress. There were street buskers, who obviously spent a great deal of time and money on their outfits and posed for various photos. There were also enthusiastic amateurs, who donned elaborate costumes for the celebration and happily soaked up the attention from adoring tourists. My favourite costumes were the ones that contained the element of humour. I enjoyed in particular one group that was dressed as Cruella Deville and her dalmatians and the most amazing costume of that day was without a doubt two men who were disguised as large, fantastic red birds.
Just before we arrived at Piazza di San Marco, Charlotte and I decided to find a place to eat the sandwiches that we had made ourselves for lunch. In the absence of a picnic table, we elected to perch on the stairs of a doorway and were startled when the door suddenly opened. An aloof woman breezed by us with only a scowl of acknowledgment, she was obviously more than used to unwelcome midday squatters outside her home. We giggled mischievously before cramming the last few bites of bread into our mouths and moving on.
As we approached the piazza, the alleys became narrower and the masses of people crushed together trying to squeeze through them. This was the only point during the day when I felt claustrophobic and the feeling subsided once we entered Piazza di San Marco itself. The only word to describe this landmark is incredible; the Basilica di San Marco was spectacular and the Carnevale crowd filled the piazza, creating an atmosphere of revelry and excitement. As many clambered to catch a glimpse of the final of a costume competition that was taking place on a stage in the square,
and I decided to weave our way through the sea of people and spot as many different costumes as possible. Songs like “Paris Latino” by Bandolero rang out over the loudspeakers and those in attendance were in a festive mood. Swaying to the music, they sang along with the lyrics and cheekily threw confetti at one another. Charlotte
After spending some time mingling amongst the other Carnevale visitors and deciding to forgo a visit to the inside of the basilica due to an epic line outside, we made our way to the lagoon nearby. Although we were curious to explore the city further, we wanted to be certain that we could make it back through the maze of Venetian streets before our train departed. It was a good thing that we left ourselves some time since our feet were aching after a day spent wandering around and it seemed to take us forever to reach Santa Lucia.
Once Charlotte and I were within view of the station, we sat down at a local bar and discussed our adventure over a hot chocolate. It was a fantastic and unforgettable day that was filled with fun. In fact, I can honestly say that I have nothing negative to say about the
Carnevale whatsoever. My only regret is that I chose to see the event in just one day and not over the course of a week. I would have also loved to dress up in one of those beautiful costumes that I admired so much as a tourist and attend one of the dinners or galas that were advertised on the internet. In a way however, I suppose it’s a good thing that I didn’t do it all in one visit. After all, if I had left no stone unturned yesterday what new experiences would I have to look forward to next time?! Venice