The Best Moments of Venetian Carnival

Colorful, grandiose, and one-of-a-kind Venetian Carnival of 2017 is over. Let’s remember the most important moments of this celebration of Venice’s beauty, tradition, and history that brings millions of people to Venice every year.

Boat Parade during Venice Carnival

The grand carnival opening ceremony started with Venetian Festival (Festa Veneziana), which took place on the banks of one of the most picturesque Venetian neighborhoods -Cannaregio. This was a magnificent evening show of unique floating structures with music, dancing, local food specialties, and lots of positive emotions. The canal banks were lined with people watching the amazing floats go by and trying local Venetian gastronomic specialties. Festa Veneziana continued on the second day of the Carnival in a typical Venetian fashion with a very impressive boat parade along the Grand Canal. Apart from watching richly decorated gilded boats and even brighter costumes of the boats’ passengers all the guests were treated to wine, the best creations of Venetian and Italian cuisine, and of course various entertainment.

Murano Glass Hearts for Valentine's day

Lido in Love was an event dedicated to Valentine’s Day on February 14th. The island’s main square Gran Viale was decorated for the occasion with thousands of red balloons in the shape of a heart. This special event during the Carnival took place at the Love Market in Piazzala Santan Maria Elisabetta. Special booths with Carnival props such as masks and costumes were set up at the square for adventurous couples to take selfies. The Venetian couple masks parade later in the day brought the true carnival spirit to this celebration of love and romance for those lucky enough to celebrate St. Valentine’s in Venice – the most romantic place in the world.

Venice Carnival Crowds on Piazza San Marco in Venice

Another big event was traditional “Festa delle Marie” dedicated to freeing of beautiful Venetian girls from the pirates. The history of this celebration is obscure and mired in legend but most sources point to the fact that starting some time in the ninth century Venice had a custom of celebrating the catholic day of purification of Mary, February 2nd, by selecting 12 of the poorest girls whose weddings were scheduled for that year and providing them with princely wedding celebrations. Sponsored by the church, this tradition involved dressing the girls into expensive clothes as well as giving them rich dowry along with throwing grand celebrations with the doge. Once around year 943 during such an occasion pirates broke into the church of San Pietro di Castello and kidnapped the girls along with their rich dowry and gifts right before the eyes of shocked Venetians. The Venetian fleet headed by the Doge himself quickly organized the pursuit, caught the pirates, retrieved all the stolen articles, saved the women, and threw the pirates overboard. To commemorate this occasion the Doge instituted the official annual Festa delle Marie, or Feast of the Mary’s. The feast involved finding and choosing 12 most beautiful girls among the poorest inhabitants of Venice, 2 from each Sestiere, and naming each of them Mary. Nobility was invited to sponsor this event and provide girls with beautiful clothing and fine gifts. A boat parade along Venice’s canals was held to celebrate the Feast, special religious cervices were held in churches across the city, and fun celebrations with food and music were organized for Venetians. The celebrations went on for several days, and the occasion was one of the most eagerly awaited, lavish, and expensive celebrations in Venice. Eventually in 1379 Festa delle Marie ceased to exist due to rowdy behavior during the party and inappropriateness of the nature of the celebrations to the solemn spirit of the day of the purification of Mary.

The celebration was reborn in 1999 and became one of the key events of annual Venetian Carnival. Modern-day Festa delle Marie involves the procession of twelve young and beautiful girls selected in advance of the Carnival, surrounded by others in historical costume, which parades from San Pietro di Castello to Piazza San Marco. Eagerly viewers gather on Piazza San Marco to see the introduction of Marie, which concludes the celebration. This girl, the winner of the competition of Mary’s then becomes the “angel” to take the flight of the angel during the next year’s carnivale.

San Marco Campanile in Venice

On Piazza San Marco on February 19th carnival aficionados could witness the traditional “Flight Of An Angel”. The role of the angel was awarded to Claudia Marchiori, the Marie of 2016. The “Flight of the Angel” goes back to the historical Venetian tradition when an incognito guest of Venice would descent on a rope from the Campanile of San Marco down to the piazza, offering homage to the Doge. The angel is always the winner of the previous year’s Festa delle Marie. The winner of the 2017 Festa, Elisa Costantini, will become the Angel for the Carnival 2018.

Masked and Costumed Revelers at Venice Carnival

The beating heart of Venice, Piazza San Marco, became the center of yet another important event of the Venetian Carnival – the Competition for the Best Carnival Costume. The competition judges announced the winners in two categories: the best costume and the best mask. Anybody can take part, all you need to do is just file and submit a special form, deck out in a fabulous carnival costume and show up for the contest. You will then be given a change to walk on stage showing off your costume, but be prepared for the tough fight if you wish to win. The participants costumes are extremely elaborate, featuring gorgeous detail and decorations, complete with plumage, furs, wigs, elaborate hats, and of course gorgeous masks.

It is hard to imagine more grandiose and amazing celebration than Venetian Carnival. It is a mix of the old and the new, born from unique Venetian traditions with roots deep in the centuries past, a mix of romance and adventure, which attracts people of all ages and walks of life. If you never visited this celebration of life, history, and beauty we highly recommend putting it on your bucket list and experiencing these events first-hand.

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Acqua Alta In Venice – Dealing With Venetian Floods

Acqua Alta (high water) is a term used in Venice for the high tide in the Adriatic Sea. The water levels reach the air maximum in the Venetian Lagoon, which in turn causes flooding in Venice. This usually happens outside of the Venetian tourist season, between September and April when the tides are strengthened by seasonal winds called Sirocco and Bora that blow along the Adriatic coast.

Venetian Lagoon is a large elongated body of water around 35 miles long and 6 miles wide, which is separated from Adriatic Sea by a sand bar cut by three passages: Lido, Malamocco, and Chioggia. During high tides the water from the sea comes into the Lagoon via these three passages, raising the Lagoon level, and afterwards it goes back out to the sea. These daily tides clean up Venetian canals allowing the water to circulate, and the city to survive without special sewer systems.

Acqua Alta at San Marco Square in Venice

There is a special scale of acqua alta levels developed just for measuring tides in Venice. At Punta della Dogana, Venice’s entrance to the Lagoon there is a hydrographic station, which regularly takes measurements. The zero point was defined in 1897 when measurements started. Add 31 to 43 inches to that and you get Venetian high tide. 44 to 55 inches above 0 is very high tide. And above 5 inches is extremely high tide.

The worst acqua alta was recorded in November of 1966, with an increase of 76 inches, and was devastating for the city and its inhabitants. While it was a relatively infrequent phenomenon in the nineteenth century, with about 10 instances a year, the frequency and severity of it increased last century to reach about 60 times a year. Some people think that is because Venice is quickly sinking, but this is not accurate. The pilings on which Venice stands sunk 10cm lower in the twentieth century due to the rise of industrial activity in the Lagoon and pumping out of the groundwater, which caused rapid compression of the layers of land on the bottom of the Lagoon, which holds the pilings. Once the government realized how this was affecting the city, groundwater pumping was stopped and now Venice sinks by less than a millimeter a year mostly due to natural geological reasons.

However, a bigger problem for the city is rising ocean levels due to climate change, and it is expected that increased speed of arctic ice melting will bring even more frequent and severe floods. Much scientific, environmental, and architectural thought went into trying to protect the city from this ongoing threat, resulting in much debate and finally in approval of a large scale very ambitious construction project dubbed MOSE (Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico or Experimental Electromechanical Module). The design involves 57 retractable floodgates that will be installed at the entrances from the Adriatic Sea into each of the three Lagoon inlets, which would rise once the water levels entering the Lagoon will reach dangerous levels and stop more water from coming in. Began back in 2003, the project has encountered multiple delays and budget issues, and is currently expected to be completed by June 2018.

Acqua Aklta on Venetian Street

The optimists hope that this will mark the end of infamous Venetian floods and the phenomenon of acqua alta and will ultimately prevent the destruction of Venice brought on by frequent inflows of saltwater. The pessimists worry that with the rising sea levels there is a good chance that the floodgates will stay closed for long stretches of time turning Venetian Lagoon into a marshy lake and creating dangerous pollution levels and a potential sanitation hazard in the Lagoon and the city.

Today when acqua alta hits, some lower lying areas of Venice, including its lowest point, piazza San Marco, end up under water and passage through the city becomes difficult. The city combats the issue by installing raised walkways in the most vulnerable areas, but mobility is limited limited to only a few routes. For Venetians life goes on even during most floods, and every Venetian owns a pair of special very tall rain boots, but tourists often opt for a lighter version to brave the watered streets. Produced by company called Goldon, they look like yellow plastic covers which are worn above regular shoes and are light, easy to carry, and surprisingly effective at keeping feet dry and letting you explore the city during acqua alta.

Dealing with flooding in Venice

If you happen to experience acqua alta in Venice, take it in stride. Buy the plastic boot covers or rain boots and continue to enjoy the city’s special ambiance and this unique experience that you will not soon forget.

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The Best Gifts To Bring Home From Venice

Venice is renowned for its beauty, history, and art. No wonder that many visitors want to bring home a memory of this magical city, along with original souvenirs for family and friends. Gifts are a wonderful way to show loved ones that you care, even when you are far away from home, and they’re also an excellent way to express the beauty of a place to someone who has never visited it.

Fortunately, Venice offers many gift choices to travelers looking for unique and beautiful gifts to take home. Our recommendations center around traditional artisan goods that have been crafted in Venice for centuries using original techniques and that embody the true spirit and beauty of Venice.

Venetian Carnival Masks

Venetian Carnival Masks

Carnivals are a longstanding tradition in many cities and towns throughout Italy, but Venetian Carnival is the most famous and revered of them all. For ten days each February or early March, Venice transforms into a heaven of revelry and partying, the extraordinary ‘Carnevale’. During this time millions of tourists descend upon the city, clamouring for a chance to experience lavish decadence of another era. The masks are seen everywhere – on the streets, in cafes, at parades, in gondolas, at the balls, and range from basic to extremely elaborate. 

Venetian masks are often colorful, with intricate detail and rich decoration of beads, plumes, fabrics, or even small paintings. Authentic Venetian masks are made by hand from papier-mâché, designed in baroque style and often hail from Italian Commedia Del Arte, impersonating its various characters, such as Colombina, Arlecchino or Pulcinella.

When buying a mask in Venice, find the type of design that you like, then seek out a real Venetian mask atelier, where oftentimes the artisans will work in the back while the finished masks will be sold out front. These places are usually not found in big tourist spots, but mostly tucked away on white canals, back lanes, or small piazzas. Never fall for low prices and places with rows of similar cheap-looking masks. Those are most likely fakes made in China. The real Venetian masks are relatively heavy, perfectly crafted, and not cheap.

Where to Buy Venetian Masks?

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Five Famous Venetians And How They Changed The World

Venice was founded as a refuge for members of society that fled various invasions occurring in Italy many centuries ago. Because Venice eventually became a republic, which was freer and more liberal than all other European states of the day, it attracted talent from far and wide and became a birthplace of many prominent people in the spheres ranging from arts to sciences to commerce and politics.

Below, we tell stories of five notable Venetians, who made great contribution to the society and influenced the course of the modern world. However, throughout the generations Venice continued to produce incredible entrepreneurs and artists- so this list is just a taste of what Venice had and has to offer to the world.

Antonio Vivaldi

Vivaldi Concert in Venice

Antonio Vivaldi is without a doubt one of the most influential baroque musicians. He was born in Venice in 1678, and was baptized almost immediately. Many historians note the significance of this event, because it suggests that Vivaldi was set to lead a life heavily influenced by Catholicism.

Vivaldi’s father was a budding violinist, who taught his son to play, and subsequently brought him on a musical tour of the Venetian lagoon. Although Vivaldi was ordained as a priest, and dedicated much of his time to the church, his passion for music was longstanding. A brilliant violinist and a talented composer, Vivaldi lived in Venice his entire life, although he found much success in other European countries too. While he remained a well known figure throughout his life, after his death, he fell into relative obscurity and fame eluded him.
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Staying In Venice: A Brief Guide To Venetian Neighborhoods

Although a relatively small city, Venice, Italy is home to a number of vibrant neighborhoods, each of them with its own character and history. Administratively the historical center of Venice is split into six areas called “sestiere” (which means a “sixth” in Venetian dialect), a tradition that has held up since the 12th century. The present sestieri map dates back to 1711. Besides the six sestieri, Venice actually includes Giudecca, the Lido, Murano, Burano, and a few other islands in the Venetian Lagoon. While staying in Venice’s historic center is expensive, we highly recommend it for anyone who wants to get an authentic experience in Venice and values a chance to get to know the city and its people beyond the museums, the tacky souvenire vendors, and the crowds.

Map of Venice with Landmarks

It is indeed a hard choice of accommodation between the different areas of Venice, each home to its own set of traditions and cultural features. It’s possible, however, to make an educated decision based on various factors that we will help you uncover in this article.

To start off, it is worth noting that while some neighborhoods are more central than others, all have their attractions and advantages, and the entire city can be traversed from East to West in about an hour and a half on foot. The number of residents in Venice’s historical center keeps declining every year and is currently below 60,000. Today for better or worse the city is largely home to businesses and is a hub of tourism activity thanks in part to the huge cruiseships that dock in its port. There are lots of hotels, hostels, B&B’s and rental apartments in all areas of Venice, and those visiting Venice will be pleased to know that the city is largely welcoming and has no “bad” or dangerous areas.

Santa Croce: The Gateway To Venice

Santa Croce Ponte delle Scalzi Venice

Santa Croce takes its name from the church that once stood here but was unfortunately demolished by Napoleon. With the bus terminal at Piazzale Roma, the multi-story parking garages, the so called “people mover” and the ship dock at Stazione Marittima, Santa Croce has established itself as a commuting area of the city and the transportation hub for tourists. This neighborhood of Venice has the most connections to mainland Italy, and is therefore buzzing with activity all day long.

The only bridge that connects Venice to the mainland, Ponte della Libertà, was built on Mussolini’s order in 1933. It connects Santa Croce area of Venice with Mestre for car traffic, which, unlike in the rest of Venice, is partially allowed in this neighborhood, albeit only in a very small part of it – and with strict limitations. However, for those interested in exploring other neighboring towns in addition to Venice by car, while being a a 40-minute walk away from Piazza San Marco, Santa Croce is an excellent choice. Despite its transport links, Santa Croce maintains its identity as authentic Venetian neighborhood with its fair share of bars and restaurants, art galleries, and attractions such as Ca’ Pesaro, a former palazzo hosting International Gallery of Modern Art, and Fondaco dei Turchi, a magnificent palazzo dating from 1225 that was subsequently owned by Dukes of Ferrara before being given to Ottoman merchants for use as a community center and a warehouse, which currently houses the Venetian museum of Natural History.
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What Makes Venice Special? Top Interesting Facts About Italy’s Floating City.

Venice is a historical treasure, a living breathing city that changed very little over the centuries and that boasts an extensive and impressive history. Beyond that, it is a very curious place, the only one of its kind, built entirely on the water, which creates myths and legends, and brings to mind many questions. While tourists from around the world flock to the city to admire the beautiful architecture, the breathtaking canals, and the amazing art-packed churches- few visit the city with any historical insight at hand. For this reason, we’ve compiled answers to questions that you’ve probably had about Venice, or perhaps will have during your visit- in an effort to equip you with information that will help enhance your cultural trip.

The Venice of today is, above all, a brief glimpse into an opulent and elegant time where the economy of the Western world relied on shipping and merchants. The city remains as authentic as possible, and buildings are preserved with the intention of leaving the city in its original glory. As you explore the city, the answers we provide below may help you understand certain conventions, and shed light on certain characteristics of Venice.

1. How and why was Venice founded?

Venice Old Map Of The City

Venice was officially founded, according to historical records, on March 25th of year 421 AD with the opening of its first church, San Giacomo, in the area called Rialto (from Venetian “Rivoalto”, or high shore). The Northeastern corner of Italy was, at the time, suffering from a series of barbarian invasions. The Barbarian invasion was a particularly brutal time for local residents, as the invading clans besieged entire cities and terrorized the population, who had previously lived peacefully under the lawful and orderly Roman Empire.

In fear, these people fled to the practically inaccessible marshlands in the Adriatic part of the modern Veneto region, that in Roman times were populated by people called Veneti. The place became known as Venexia in local Venetian dialect, or Venetiae, in Latin, and eventually transformed into Venice in the English language. These marshlands in shallow Venetian lagoon were impossible for barbarians to navigate and thus provided a reliable shelter for the refugees albeit in a very inhospitable environment. Originally a community of fisherman whose main trade besides fishing was salt, Venice grew as new arrivals from the mainland kept coming uprooted by the new waves of barbarians sweeping Italian lands. Venice was, therefore, a haven for refugees. It was, in time, built with understanding of the necessity of the rule of law, the desire to develop commerce, and the drive to succeed typical for immigrant communities. This eventually led to the well-established legal system, the elected government headed by the Doge, and checks and balances built into the system to avoid corruption. The lack of land further helped Venice avoid the destiny of other European states with their backward feudal systems and ascent of the landed nobility. It was above all a commercial society that flourished on trade and friendly foreign relations. In other words, its political and economic systems were far more advanced than of any of other Western European states at the time, and were even studied carefully by the founding fathers in the U.S. as one of the very few examples of a working democracy, even if imperfect.
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5 Great Movies Filmed In Venice That You Should See

Venice is a wonderfully scenic city, rich with dramatic architecture and a unique culture, a favorite of famous artists and writers, and a place that is unbelievably picturesque and photogenic. For this reason, since the advent of cinema many production companies have chosen the city as a stunning backdrop for a variety of films, and audiences worldwide are able to enjoy the beauty of Venice unfolding alongside dynamic story lines from the comfort of their homes.

Ranging from Hollywood blockbusters such as The Tourist, to cinematic renditions of literary classics such as the Merchant Of Venice, there is no shortage of Venetian-themed movies for you to enjoy. For your convenience, we have compiled a thorough selection of great movies, that beautifully depict Venice and take full advantage of its diverse setting. If you have not seen them all, we highly recommend that you watch them soon.

The Tourist

Venice Boat on Grand Canal

‘The Tourist’ is a thrilling movie, a mix of romance, suspense, and thriller, starring both Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. The film revolves around an American tourist wonderfully portrayed by Johnny Depp, who meets gorgeous Elise played by Angelina Jolie, on a trip to Venice. Frank is heartbroken, and his misery starkly contrasts the beauty of Venice. Meanwhile, Elise deliberately crosses paths with Frank in a mysterious turn of events, that plays out across the narrow alleyways and dark corners of this unique city that is romantic and hauntingly dramatic at once.

The Tourist takes full advantage of all that Venice has to offer. Audiences will grab onto their seats during high-energy boat chases across the canals, delight in the gorgeous actors playing characters crisscrossing the streets of the small city, and enjoy the rare inside looks the interior of Venetian palaces that shine in all their former glory. The movie is set in modern times, but the elegant complexity of the storyline pays tribute to an opulent Venice of the past. This is a must see for movie fans, lovers of Venice and those who value beautiful backdrops to excellent stories.

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Highlights Of The Murano Glass Museum

The Murano Glass Museum is a major tourist attraction on Venetian island of Murano, and one that uniquely represents the rich history of glassmaking present on the small Venetian island. Many tourists wish to visit the museum, and rightly so, as the large venue houses historical artifacts and beautiful displays that are unique to Murano.

There are both permanent and temporary exhibitions open to tourists, and those who purchase tickets are granted admission to the majority of the museum, including any special or seasonal shows. The museum was renovated recently, and the building itself is almost as beautiful as the treasures kept within it. Below, we detail some of the highlights of the Murano Glass Museum, that stand out amongst all of the stunning exhibitions.

Murano Glass Museum Permanent Exposition

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Dale Chihuly – American Vision of Murano Glass

Venice’s longstanding tradition of glassmaking has continued throughout generations, and to this day, the Venetian island of Murano is still internationally renowned for its active involvement in the glassmaking industry. For this reason, artists with an interest in all things glass, will typically flock to Venice- and observe the work of famed Italian artisans who still reside in the stunning city in the Venetian lagoon.

Dale Chihuly is no exception. The American artist, who studied in prestigious institutions across the United States, embarked on a glass art pilgrimage in the late 1960s. After graduating from the Rhode Island Institute of Art, he traveled to Venice, in an effort to explore different glassmaking techniques. During this trip, he worked for the renowned Murano glass company Venini, in their world-renown Venetian factory.

Chihuly Glass Flowers Ceiling
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A Quick Guide To Venetian Cuisine: Know What To Eat In Venice

Venice is a small yet mighty island, detached from mainland Italy, and widely regarded by Italians as an entity of its own. Venetians have their own dialect, their own traditions and their own unique recipes that differ significantly from other regions in Northern Italy.

The main difference between Venetian cuisine and foods from other Italian regions is ingredients. As Venice is an island, with a history of isolation and conflict, the city was often deprived of certain ingredients that mainland Italy had easy access to. For this reason, Venice began their traditions by perusing local ingredients, readily available to humble families. These included fish, seafood, rice, and vegetables.

However, as Venice grew increasingly more wealthy, the city began to incorporate more luxurious ingredients into their recipes. Suddenly, humble and meager meals began to feature exotic ingredients. Venice began to import foods from other regions of the country, as well as other countries entirely, as part of a concerted effort to display their wealth in all available outlets, including through their food. As a result, Venetian cuisine is now regarded as a set of recipes unique to the region, that feature wonderful combinations of flavors and textures.
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