What can I tell you about our trip to the Carnaval in Venice? To see the traditional Venecian carnaval masks, you need to head to San Marco square where you can find most of them, if you walk around the city you may see some bit the biggest concentration of them all are in San Marco. On our way to San Marco we saw some masks, we thought were good until we actually saw some of the elaborated masks, gee you can tell it's a big deal for them and their aim is to win the mask competition! It's serious for them! Not like some tourists you can see that tried to be dressed in a Venecian style but didn't manage! Of course we were true tourists and had our masks on, i bought one of my masks on eBay because I thought it was going to be tough to find masks in Venice on the last days of Carnaval, gee how wrong i was! There are stands of masks everywhere on the streets and you can buy one from 8 to 11 euros! Of course, they are fakes but they do the trick!If you are more demanding you can go into a shop (they are all open) and find a real one from 30 to more than hundred euros.
If you ask me if it was worth it to go to see Venice in Carnival, my answer is Yes!! it's something unique you can only see there surrounded by the canals but I would say it's something to do once in your life time! I wouldn't tak a small kid there as some did struggling with their trolleys among the mass of people ,so leave the kids at home!
Forget about going on a Gondola ,they charge from 80 euros onwards ! If you really want to go on a gondola trip you can do so for only 50 cents! They are a bit longer than the gondolas and they are used by the Venetians to cross small distances, they are called "traghetto", they have specific timetables, look for them on the internet. We didn't manage to go on one because we preferred to get most of the day taking pictures of all the masks we found on the way. More info on traghetti can be found here:
- Don't stay in Venice since it can get very expensive, you can get easily to Venice on a tren (Destination: Venecia St. Lucia) for an affordable price. So consider to stay in cities close to Venice like : Mestre, Marghera,Dolo, Mirano or any other small town in the Veneto region. We stayed for example with our friend in Vicenza, an hour and a half in a regional train but in a Eurostar train it takes only 30 mins and you pay 13 euros for one way.
- If you are going to Venice for the Carnival and you are going to stay in another town, due to the amount of people from Italy and other tourists that actually go there by train, I would advise you to buy with enough time in advanced a return ticket on a Eurostar train, they are the only one with booked seats , otherwise you will need to "fight your way" to find a place in a regional train (from 16.00 pm the station is overcrowded!), we felt like in India..,it's not very well organized and it can get messy, it took us 2 hours running around the station to find actually a train and then once we managed to get in, we were stuck in one for an hour ,with no air conditioning and surrounded by people everywhere..,my friend tried to warn me to leave Venice at an earlier time..I should have listened to him. Even when we stopped in one station, one guy tried to get into the train by the window..!!
- If you want to have a good meal in Venice ,with wine,dessert and coffee for 30 euros per person, I truly recommend a palce called : Hosteria al Vecio Bragosso, in the strada nuova 4386 s.s. apostoli, check their web page: http://www.alveciobragosso.com/ristorante-venezia.htm , it was my second time in Venice and my second time there and gee i love it! I recommend: Frittura mista (fish like in the south of Spain!uhm!) and scalopini borgonzola (delicate pork meat with mushrooms! uhm!) and to drink : Prosecco and as a dessert : tiramisu and cafe macciatone! This restaurant is not in the tourist area and you will need to ask to get there, we always get lost to find it lol.
- Dont leave Venice without eating sweets or cakes in one of the pasticceria (pastry shops)!
- Take a good camera with you, otherwise you will regret not having good pictures, it's unbelievable how people pose for you when they see a nikon or canon slrs professional camera! I was impressed by the amount of tourists that had nikons and/or canons, gee! It was funny ,too when the masks posed for us all the time, they may have thought we were professional photographers, don't know lol but they did not pose when they saw a small regular digital camera!
- Get ready to be surrounded by a crowd of people and that in some small bridges ,you will find Italian policemen telling you to walk quickly and not to stop and go in the direction that they say.
- One place to go before you die, it has to be Venice! A city that changes with the weather, when i was there first time it was foggy and without people, it was in February 3 years ago, it had a dull touch! however ,when it's sunny, the city changes completely! The colours, the walls, all!
- Dont expect to see a perfect painted city, Venice is a city that is humid and it's charm comes from the painting falling off the walls and its old bridges and small narrow streets!
- If you go for Carnival, please do not wear a tacky fancy dress that do not match with the style and elegance of this carnaval, some tourists did actually wore some horrible fancy dressed that destroyed the atmosphere! and!! do not expect to get drunk and crazy, Venice has a different approach and there are no clubs or pubs to dance. There is a big stage where some music at some times of the days will be played but again as I said it's not clubbing oriented.
- Fly to Venice (Trevisso) with ryanair or to Bologna (2 hours by train to Venice).
- If you want to see the city in a quiet atmosphere , do like me and go in February! The weather may not be good but you will be able to stop on every corner/bridge without having loads of tourists on your pics!