Carnevale di Venezia


If you visit Venice, Italy during the annual Carnival celebration, you are in for a treat. Tourists from all over the world travel to Venice to admire and be a part of this celebration, which includes traditional Venetian costumes, masks, and confetti-filled streets. This tradition takes place every year between the middle and end of February, dating back to 1162. The original Carnival is believed to be a celebration of victory for the Republic of Venice after a battle against the Patriarch of Aquileia. The whole town gathered in Piazza San Marco, also known as Saint Mark’s Square, and to this day the square is still a main gathering point for those celebrating.

The 2-week long holiday is also closely associated with the Christian tradition of Lent. The Latin term “carne vale” means “farewell to meat,” and there is a long history of Venetians using this time to drink, eat, and dance through the streets before the 40-day fast begins. 

The Rialto Bridge
Piazza San Marco


The masquerade aspect of the celebration originated as a way for individuals to hide their identities, and remove any class or social differences. To this day, many people still dress up and continue this tradition. The narrow cobblestone streets and small cafes are filled with people in authentic 18th-century Venetian gowns and suits.  

Lady in Larva mask


If you are looking for a bona fide Carnival experience during your time in Venice, check out Caffé Florian. This quaint cafe is located in the heart of Saint Mark’s Square and dates back to 1720. The interior was restored in 1858 and has remained the same ever since. Because of its rich history, the wait for a table can be long during carnival season, but I recommend peaking through the window to get a glimpse of the experience. 

Because the carnival in Venice is such a widespread event, the thin city walkways tend to fill up, making it difficult to stroll through town. A great way to avoid this is by taking a gondola ride or water taxi. During the gondola ride, you can weave through the small canals to see Venice from a different point of view, while avoiding the overcrowded bridges. A taxi ride is a cheaper option and usually can not access as many small passageways through the floating city, but it’s a great way to sightsee from the water.  

Gondola ride through the canals

Another scene worth checking out is Ristorante ai Barbacani. This restaurant is hidden away in a quieter part of town in the Castello District. If you approach the restaurant from the Campo Santa Maria Formosa square, you will see a shining table for two perfectly positioned on the canal. You can enjoy a meal here while watching people pass through the square and gondolas row down the canal. 

The perfect dinner at Ristorante ai Barbacani

Sarah Panson is a student at Boise State University and an ISA Photo Blogger. She is studying with ISA in Florence, Italy.

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