After a long absence we decided to attend the Venice Carnival once again. We also decided to bring costumes like we did in the past, but as we now live on the other side of the pond, the logistics were a little bit more difficult.
We worked for months to have our costumes ready in time. We brought half the costumes the previous trip to Switzerland, and half this time. Luckily, all the luggage arrived! We then decided to drive to Venice to avoid having our luggage lost with the airline at the last minute after all the hard work to get them over to Europe.
We had a rental car and we parked it at the Venice airport. The parking fees are much cheaper than at the Santa Lucia train station parking and the motoscafo (motorboat) taxi costs only a few more Euros from there. It is a big savings if you reserve your parking spot in advance at the Venice Marco Polo airport.
It took us no time to park and to carry our luggage for a couple of minutes to the port where our reserved motoscafo was waiting. If you must splurge for one thing in Venice, it is the private motorboat transport to the heart of the city. It makes your life much easier, especially if you have five or six pieces of luggage, which was our case this trip with all our costumes.
Our motoscafo took us to the Rio del Alboro canal and dropped us in front of the Ristorante da Raffaele, which is a few steps from the apartment we rented for the week. The canal was very busy that day and we had to jump into another motorboat in order to reach the sidewalk. Everybody around was very helpful or maybe they just felt sorry after seeing the number of pieces of luggage. But my wife told all the workers, “They are full of costumes for Carnival!”, so they were happy to have people come from far away to participate in this annual event.
We usually stay in a hotel near St. Marco Square, but this time we needed extra space and decided to rent an apartment. We stayed at the Salmaso Apartments. The location was great, in between the Gritti Palace and the St. Regis Hotel. The family that owns the apartments also own the Ristorante da Raffaele nearby and the hotel Ala, where you go to check-in. The apartment was very spacious, with a nice kitchen and a lot of windows. It is located on a courtyard that you share with the hotel Flora. There is a small Coop supermarket near the Rialto bridge where you can find everything you need.
We had a different costume for every day and we spent most of our time around the San Marco Square. The most beautiful costumes can be seen at the Caffè Florian, which we visited on a few occasions. When you sit there with everyone in their period costumes, it feels like you are living in another time. It is an unforgettable experience.
For dinner we went back to some of our favorite restaurants and discovered some new places. We really enjoyed the home-made lasagna at Ristorante Saint Angelo and the great atmosphere at Vino Vino. We even did a touristy thing and had dinner at the bar at the Hard Rock Café, located just behind the San Marco Square. We had very good ribs and a great waiter.
One of our two best lunches was at the Ai Cugnai Dal 1911 Trattoria in the Dorsoduro neighborhood. The restaurant is full of locals (mainly gondoliers). They serve very good seafood at a reasonable price. The second one we really enjoyed was at Trattoria Dona Onesta, located on a small canal in Dorsoduro. The terrace is so small that the waiters have to serve from the window inside the restaurant!
After a wonderful week enjoying all the festivities of Carnival, we left the city on Ash Wednesday and took a motoscafo back to the airport to pick up our rental car. My wife, who loves to make costumes, already bought material and masks so when we come back in a couple of years, we will have all new costumes for Carnival!