Venetian Carnival 2016: Top Tips For Enjoying Your Time In Venice (In Mask Or Not)

Venice is buzzing with expectation and joy as this year’s Carnival draws near. With countless events, concerts and parties, Venice has the perfect scenario for an epic celebration. This year, the city’s Carnival will start in late January, offering immersive experience, festivities, and great food for locals and visitors.

Just like every year, the city chooses a theme for the Carnival, and this year’s theme is “Creatum”. It encompasses the appreciation and knowledge of various trades and crafts practiced in all of Venice’s districts, showcasing them to locals and foreigners. To honor these crafts, the city is organizing an exhibition of historic archives at the Archivio dello Stato di Venezia (Venetian State Archive) opening from January 30th to February 9th. The stage will also support the Carnival’s theme, presenting the play I Rusteghi directed by Giuseppe Emiliani on February 3rd at the Carlo Goldoni Theater. Culinary talents join the feast and present Il Campo dei Sapori e delle Tradizioni (The Square of Tastes and Traditions) from February 4th to the 9th at Campo San Geremia. This will be an explosion of flavors and traditions all mixed together in a small pavilion near the train station (Ferrovia), offering the region’s most typical and representative dishes, a story being told through flavors of unique artisan delicacies.
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The Great Murano Glass Masters: Salviati

With famous admiration for the beautiful Venetian island of Murano and an ongoing interest for innovation, the Salviati family have traced their own and quite important path in the history of Murano glassmakers. It has never been said that in order to belong to Murano’s coveted family of glass artists one needs to be born into one, and Salviati has proven this to be right. With a past in mosaic production and an incomparable sense of pioneering, this family brought a twist to the established rules and traditions of the glassmaking industry.
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Christmas Celebrations And Winter Holiday Traditions in Venice, Italy

Just when you were starting to think that Venice couldn’t possibly become more magical, Christmas transforms this city into a perfect winter wonderland. While cities around the world deck their streets with lights and ornaments, Venice disappears into foggy wintry sights worthy of any painting by Canaletto. For those seeking peace and tranquility during the holidays, Venice may turn out to be the perfect venue full of concerts, hot chocolate, mysterious fog and, occasionally, snow.

The month of December brings serenity and quiet to the city, due to lack of tourist crowds strolling down the streets. This is the time of year when Venice is taken over by fog and mist, turning the island into a hauntingly beautiful scene. Although Venice does not go over the top with Christmas decorations, one can still find fantasy lights and garlands adorning its main streets and gondolas. Locals take advantage of this chilly time to gather together and enjoy a cup of cioccolata calda (hot chocolate) inside cozy bars. Contrary to the typical hot chocolate we all know, cioccolata calda in this region is rich and thick and will surely keep the cold at bay.

The weather is mostly humid and cold, with occasional snow and acqua alta Iflooding) in Saint Marc’s Square. It is advisable to be well prepared when it comes to choosing appropriate clothing; the wind and rain that sometimes take over the city do not make it easy for visitors to walk around. However, there is still a chance of getting lucky with sunny days every now and then. When this happens, Venetians will be more than ready to bundle up and go out for some Christmas shopping around the city.

One of Venice’s most charming experiences during this season is visiting the joyful Christmas markets, or mercatini di Natale, as locals call them. Springing up between Rialto and Saint Marc’s Square and starting from mid-December, the Christmas markets are a cheerful exhibition of Venice’s most exquisite arts and crafts. Some of these markets offer fine handcrafted articles like purses, wallets, stationary, jewelry, and ornaments. Others offer exquisite Venetian products that range from gorgeous Murano Glass to elegant Burano lace, to hand-embroidered fabrics, to timeless antiques. Typical food and beverages are also part of this show, sometimes accompanied by live music too. It is also common to find a wide selection of Nativity scenes and objects (presepi), most of them handmade, especially near the Rialto Bridge by the church of San Giovanni Grisostomo. And in spite of it being Christmastime, the Venice Carnival is never far from people’s minds, as we see colorful hand-made masks being sold at every market. Naturally, the whole city is also adorned with countless Murano glass decorations, and it is a great idea to visit the island of Murano for the Glass Christmas Celebration (Natale di Vetro), where visitors will be charmed by unique Christmas-themed objects made of Murano Glass.

While hot chocolate may sound alluring when hopping from one bar to the other, the Christmas markets offer a wide selection of traditional and tasty foods and drinks. Roast chestnuts, chocolates, candied fruit and mulled wine are just some of the yummy treats one can find shopping along the lanes. The famous panettone, or pandoro (Christmas cake) is found in almost every Venetian home and restaurant around Christmas.

The winter season also brings music and concerts, and so the churches and opera houses are full of crowds eager to spend the evening listening to classical music masterpieces. It is easy to find the programs by reading the posters spread throughout the city, or by visiting the year’s program online. The church of La Pietà, on Riva degli Schiavone, usually holds some of the best concerts by Vivaldi, who was once that church’s composer. Some locations like Ca’ Rezzonico, Palazzo Moncenigo or the Scuola San Rocco hold concerts performing traditional Italian Christmas songs; while at world-famous La Fenice opera theater the winter program ranges from Mozart to Verdi offering priceless enriching performances. Prices and schedules always vary from place to place, some being free, some charging nominal admission, some requiring previous booking.

While walking around the city with almost no tourist crowds to obstruct the views and waiting lines, it is also advisable to keep in mind that most tourist attractions are closed on certain days around the holidays. Museums like the Doge’s Palace, the Galleria dell’Accademia, Museo Correr and Ca’ Rezzonico close on both December 26th and January 1st. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, however, is possibly the only museum in Venice to stay open on the New Year’s Day. Schedules for the vaporetto (water bus) may also vary and should be taken into consideration for moving around the city.

Hanukkah is also celebrated in Venice, in the part of sestiere Cannaregio known as the Ghetto – the site of the first Jewish ghetto in the world, where Judaism and Jewish traditions are kept alive and one can see beautifully illuminated menorahs, unique Murano Glass judaica, and delicious kosher food prepared for this special celebration.

All these joyful celebrations and performances lead Venetians to the very much awaited Christmas Eve dinner (la vigilia). During this evening, Christmas tables all over Venice overflow with traditional Venetian Christmas eve dishes mainly focused on fish and seafood: Venetian risotto, ravioli in capon broth, eel, mixed fried fish and an assortment of seafood with vegetables and polenta. When it comes to visitors, they should book the restaurant quite early, since many of them tend to run out of seats or simply close that day. Nonetheless, many great Venetian restaurants like La Zucca, Osteria Enoteca Ai Artisti, Alle Testiere, and Trattoria La Furatola, are always open for this special evening. After the Christmas Eve dinner, many Venetians take a stroll down the streets and canals and head to Saint Mark’s Basilica to attend midnight Mass, starting at 11.30. The midnight Christmas mass at San Marco is a unique experience for both Venetians and foreigners. This night, the Byzantine basilica is lit with hundreds of candles and incense, the famous golden mosaics set aglow, and the entire experience echoes the celebrations of the centuries past. Families and visitors alike flock to San Marco for grand celebratory experience on this special night. But the celebrations don’t stop here; Italians keep on celebrating with the Feast of Santo Stefano, on December 26th, leading the way to the church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari to enjoy a free live concert and choir.

This is the kind of luxury Venice offers, the richness of its beauty and the bliss of its peaceful wintry canals, that bring it closer to those otherwordly visions we recall from ancient paintings. This is what makes Venice an even more magical place around Christmas and winter holidays.

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The Great Murano Glass Masters: Gino Cenedese

Weaving together almost one hundred years of tradition and a unique sensitivity, the Gino Cenedese & Son glassworks is one of Murano’s finest and oldest glass companies. With a vocation for excellence and the love for traditional craftsmanship, the glass masters of this furnace have interpreted Venetian history through color and form, accomplishing global acclaim. The Cenedese Murano Glass is world-famous not only because of their indisputable quality and talent, but also because out of many Murano Glass companies, this is probably the one with the widest range of collections and variations.

The story of Cenedese fame begins in 1916 with a small 9-year-old boy, Gino Cenedese, who learned the most essential glassmaking techniques from different masters around Murano. By the end of the second World War in 1946, he founded the Gino Cenedese & C. glassworks, which immediately gained international recognition thanks to the high quality and refined style engraved in every piece. Although Cenedese opened this glass factory with important partners by his side (Angelo Tosi, Alfredo Barbini, Gino Fort and Pietro Scaramal), he was left as its sole owner by 1949, taking the factory through the twentieth century with vision and commitment.
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Travel Tips for Eating Out in Venice: Where To Eat Like A Local

As exquisite, fresh and wholesome as Venetian cuisine may be, it is unfortunate that many travelers report unpleasant experiences of being ripped off or having bland meals when eating out in Venice. Eating in Venice can easily become a tourist trap for eager visitors who go looking for the most stereotypical meals, and in return get low quality dishes at grossly inflated costs. Venetian cuisine dominated by abundance of seafood is not what travelers typically associate with Italy, yet it is incredibly tasty if you happen to run into the right place. Good coffee can absolutely be enjoyed outside of Piazza San Marco’s expensive restaurants, and freshest seafood you ever tasted can be found in many unassuming local eateries called osterie.

The first and best tip is to avoid any “tourist menus” as they have limited food choices, often not of the freshest kind, and dishes that aim to please tourists en masse rather than offer authentic local experience. These kinds of menus in restaurants situated in crowded touristic areas just concentrate on one-time tourist crowds that will most likely never come back, and therefore pay less attention to quality and exclusivity. It is easy to recognize these places: they all have explicit pictures of every dish, waiters in bow ties loudly inviting customers to come in, and frequently no Italians inside.
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A Day On Murano – Travel Tips for Visiting The Famous Glass Island

No trip to Venice would be complete without a visit to glass paradise, Murano. This small island just a mile away from Venice set pace for fashion and innovation in global glass-making industry for over 700 years. It was on this island that talented artisans turned glassmaking into an art form meant to satisfy even the most exquisite tastes, a story which remains relevant today.Offering not only a network of canals lined with ancient buildings and gorgeous views like the rest of Venice, Murano charms its visitors with many other unique attractions that cannot be found anywhere else.

The island of Murano became home to all of the Venetian glass furnaces in 1291. The risk of fires in the city made of wood along with nascent popularity and importance of glass-making craft, convinced the Doge that Murano was the right place to isolate and guard the workshops from curious eyes eager to steal the secrets of the trade. From then on, Murano name became associated with the most coveted and high quality glass works.
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Venice Through The Year: The Tourist Guide to Visiting Venice In Any Season

When it comes to planning a trip to Venice, there is a seemingly simple question that needs to be answered first: when is the best time to visit? Needless to say, Venice is always a beautiful place full of infinite charm, yet in different seasons the city can be appreciated in unique ways.

Luckily, Venice offers marvelous sights, tourist attractions and joyful festivals throughout the whole year. As it is well known, the summer months are the most expensive when it comes to accommodation and flights, long lines are usual at tourist attractions and the heat in July and August can be rather exhausting. On the other hand, the winter months offer a magical experience, if you are up for romantic albeit chilly walks through the deserted alleys of the city. One thing, however, must be remembered when planning a visit to Venice: all moving around is done by foot, or by taking a ride, most often in vaporetto (Venetian water bus). Continue reading »

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The Great Murano Glass Masters: Barovier Family

Barovier name is synonymous with Murano Glass. Over the centuries various members of Barovier family have been leaders, innovators, and vigorous promoters of Murano Glass art. Barovier & Toso is an Italian glass-making company, one of Murano’s most ancient families in the craft, and yet one whose style transcends time and whose quality has been consistently held in high regard for centuries. Nominated as the world’s longest established family of glass workers, and one of the world’s oldest continuously operating family businesses, for almost a thousand years Barovier’s family business has maintained keen interest in culture, constant innovation and drive for perfection.

The Venetian glass-making tradition – of which the Barovier family has been a frequent leader – is the very core of this family’s unique creations; it is the starting point of the Barovier history. The first known records of Barovier family members working as glass masters on Murano date back to 1324, specifically mentioning Jacobello Barovier and his sons Antonio Barovier and Bartolomeo Barovier. The descendants of Viviano Barovier and Jacobo Barovier who lived and worked on Murano island in the 14th century gave rise to the more famous Barovier family members who became well known during Renaissance. Continue reading »

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Venetian Tradition Lives On In Festa del Redentore Or Feast Of The Redeemer

The Festa del Redentore, also known as the Feast of the Redeemer or Redeemer Day, is probably Venice’s most spectacular and cherished celebration. Commemorating the end of the fatal plague that hit Venice during the 1500’s, on the third Sunday of July Venice gets transformed into a magical scenery, where boats and gondolas gather in the Venetian Lagoon to take part of the most awaited night spectacle. This is without a doubt the biggest festival in Venice.

Venice Festa del Redentore Fireworks

While Carnevale (the annual Carnival) may be the most popular Venetian festivity among tourists, Redeemer Day remains the most important and authentic of local events. Tourists from every part of the world marvel while Venetians celebrate with gondola races, impressive fireworks and delicious local dishes. This feast is rich in ceremonies, performances and theatricality; it is a jolly reminder of both tragedy and gratitude.

The Feast of the Holy Redeemer takes Venetians back to 1575. Europe had been hit with one of the most deadly of plagues, making Venice loose over 50,000 people in only two years. Belief has it that it spread mainly because of rodents and the poor sanitary conditions in vessels that traveled to the East, which lead people to praise cats as a decisive solution. Others, on the other hand, turned to divine salvation, constantly praying for the plague’s extinction. The Doge of Venice, Alvise Mocenigo, went as far as promising a magnificent temple dedicated to the Savior for public devotion, should Venice survive the plague. And so it was in 1577, that the city was declared free of the plague, and the Doge commissioned famous architect Andrea Palladio to build a church in the Island of La Giudecca as a sign of humbleness and gratitude. The end of the plague was celebrated with a joyful procession that crossed a temporary bridge towards the small wooden church that would later be known as Il Redentore. The church was consecrated in 1592 by Antonio da Ponte, twelve years after Palladio’s death, but the floating bridge connecting the shores of Zattere and La Giudecca still allows visitors to reach the church during this special celebration every year. Continue reading »

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Murano Glass Museum: the History Behind the Art

Nothing ever seems real in Venice: its beauty, its history, its art. That same feeling expands all the way over to the Island of Murano, a small island near Venice, easily reachable by vaporetto. Murano is just as rich in beauty and art; it offers the warmth and cheer one usually expects to find in small Italian towns. This island, however, possesses a very special spot that sets the place apart: Fondamenta Giustinian 8, Murano’s Glass Museum.

The palace, Palazzo Giustinian, originally built in Gothic style, was used as a residence for the bishops of Torcello, and was later acquired by the Bishop Marco Giustinian in 1659. The bishop brought many changes to the property, refurnishing and redecorating it with rich frescoes and paintings by Francesco Zugno and Francesco Zanchi.

The museum’s biggest treasure is its vast Murano Glass collection that keeps expanding thanks to constant addition of contemporary pieces. Gathering such a unique collection in one place would not have been possible without the initiative of Antonio Colleoni, then the mayor of Murano. Working together with Abbot Zanetti, Murano Glass and art enthusiast, they set out to gather and systematize Murano Glass archives detailing the history of the craft through the ages. In 1861 Colleoni opened the palace’s doors as a glass museum for the first time in 1861. It was in the grand salon where it all started – the history, the archive, the unveiling of this long forgotten art – later expanding to every room in the museum.
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