Salute! It's Carnival, Italian styleVenice, Italy
If you fancy yourself as some kind of international man/ma’am of mystery, this could be your dream celebration. Venice’s famous Carnival, like Carnival all around the world, involves an orgy of decadence before the self-denial of Lent. At least, that’s what Carnival is meant to celebrate, even if its origins have been long forgotten by many. Of course, Venice’s 12-day extravaganza is renowned for its masks that not only add an extra dash of colour to proceedings, but also encourage behaviour that may not come quite so naturally should the perpetrator be more easily identified.
Naturally, there are parades and drinking and dancing and debauchery, but also look out for other entertaining options: jousting tournaments, walking theatre performers leading tours of the city and its secrets, and games of calcio storico, an ancient sport that resembles football but also involves competitors knocking two shades of shit from one another.
If you fancy yourself as a bit of an artisan, get out the glue gun and BeDazzler, whip up a mask and enter it in the competition at Gran Teatro di Piazza San Marco. The overall winner receives a holiday in Venice and VIP tickets to Carnival events.
Once you get into the city, walking around on foot is the best way to go, or hire a gondola!
Walking around the streets and watching the street entertainment is free, but dining, drinking or attending ticketed events during festival time can be pricey. Access to a masked ball, for instance, can cost as much as US$1300.
Save your pennies now to get the best experience, otherwise just enjoy walking around admiring the plentiful and beautiful sights.
The events during the week are usually fairly low-key (for a festival) with the atmosphere reaching peak proportions during the final weekend. Carnival is held annually late January to early February.