Sunday, February 22, 2009
Venice on it’s own is a completely incredible and interesting place, but to see it at carnevale is mind blowing….a photographers dream! There is no vehicular traffic in the city so we had to travel like the Venetians from the airport, by water bus. As soon as we could see San Marco square we felt the excitement in the air. People in 18th century costumes and masks were everywhere! It was a sea of color with an unmistakable air of regality. The masked people did not talk at all – not to each other and not to us, but were all too happy to stop and pose for every tourist with a camera. They glided through the winding canals on their way to fabulous balls, tipping their hats to other costumed passer-bys as if they were in 300 year old bubble and the rest of us were on the outside looking in. There wasn’t much formality to the pageantry, it was just individual prerogative to dress as you wished and stroll about. The splendor was slightly spoiled by some misguided tourists who got in the spirit by wearing afro wigs or other silly get-ups that was much more appropriate for Halloween than carnevale, but the spectacle created by the serious still out-shined. In between all the people watching, there was lots of pizza eating, bubbly Presseco in the San Marco Piazza (set us back a small fortune, but hey it was worth it), a romantic gondola ride for 3 single ladies, and bag shopping on the Rialto bridge. We got into the spirit a little ourselves, managing to get through the maze of canals to the mask shop that created some of the costumes for the Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman movie, “Eyes Wide Shut.” Predictably, my mask wouldn’t stay on my odd-shaped head but it was good fun while it lasted. My favorite part of the trip was seeing the streets at 6am on the way to the airport. I didn’t want to leave the fairytale but the early morning aura of Venice carnevale was amazing to experience…there were still masked people about and a very befitting morning fog, but hardly any tourists reminding you that you had not actually been transported back to the 1700s. I wish I had more undisturbed moments like that, but I will certainly hope to return to the Venice Carnevale again to absorb each and every one I can get.