Monday, February 20, 2012

Masquerade! Mascheriamo la realtà!

My very own, Made-in-Venice, Carnevale mask!
Ciao tutti!!!The title of the blog comes from the ever appropriate Phantom of the Opera soundtrack, this time in Italian. The song was perpetually playing in my head this past weekend as the majority of the IES Siena group ventured north to the city of Venice for the phenomenon known as Carnevale. Now the title of this post translates to "Masquerade! We will mask reality!" which is definitely a theme in Venice at this time of year. There was a lot of unreal stuff walking around, let me tell you!

Venice is famous for this 17 day celebration preceding Lent. It has costume contest, masks, parades and a multitude of other activities that all end up involving confetti. Like seriously, that city will NEVER be clean. And while I would never voluntarily put myself in a situation where I'm surrounded by millions of people in small alleyways on a normal day, Carnevale was an exception.

If you had told me 5 years ago, heck, maybe even last year, that I would be exploring Venice during it's most famous weekend, I might have laughed. But that became a reality this weekend, and it's a weekend I'll never forget!

It really isn't fair how pretty Italy is.

Here are some pictures chronicling my awesome and mask filled trip to Venezia.

Venezia is a great place to eat seafood. What a wonderful
display. The lobsters were still moving...
My bed in the hotel room. 10000x better than Paris. Those
striped walls were cushiony 

I call this one "creeper pic" because I took a pic
of a little kid. But it's a Pikachu!!!
Kids dress up for Carnevale as well. I saw princesses and small animals running around the canals every time I turned a corner! Carnevale is kind of like Halloween and Mardi Gras combined, I guess. In a strange, Italian way. Soooo really, taking a pic of someone's kid isn't that creepy, right??

Moving on...

Since Venezia has no streets, all public officials and citizens use
boats to get around!

Tourists can take the water buses like Erica and I!
We may or may not have accidentally taken the bus without paying a few times. But hey, if your ticket offices are closed and you're stranded, what are you gonna do??

Anywhere you venture in Venice during Carnevale is likely to have at least one or two pairs of people in costumes, some fanciful, some noble, some both!

The decided to skip the creepy white masks and
go for the werewolf vibe

We didn't just look at costumes though.

In the Jewish Ghetto, this is how you can tell a
building is a synagogue- 5 windows like this
We had a tour of the Jewish Ghetto in Venice, the oldest in Europe. It housed 200 people before the Nazis invaded and took them to concentration camps. Only 5 of them returned to Venice. Venice was a desirable ghetto because Jewish people weren't discriminated against as harshly as other places in Europe.

We also squeezed in a trip to Murano, the
island famous for glassblowing
But of course, we had to take part in the festivities!

Confetti. A necessity. 
And do some touristy things

We took a gondola ride. He didn't sing.
Oh well.

The gondola was named Veronica. Obviously after
one of my best friends from home
Now, Gondolas are overpriced but they're on tourist's must-do list. The gondola took us through quieter parts of the city and was very relaxing, although when people see a gondola coming they want to take pictures. I can guarantee we were in no less than 20 random people's pictures in our 35-ish minute ride around Venice.
The Wine Fountain. Of course we had to try it. Delicious!

Yummy! We tried the hot wine. 

Costumes for Carnevale can cost THOUSANDS
of dollars. It costs a lot to look that creepy
and beautiful at the same time
At night we got our Carnevale spirit on. Complete with
random people jumping into your pictures!
On Sunday, our last day in Venezia, we decided to head to Piazza San Marco for what were I guess the Opening Ceremonies of the day. This included the releasing of a dove and a zipline of what I was told was a former Olympic athlete, meant to symbolize strength and courage. Ok, so I didn't listen that closely. I was expecting an actual zipline. She ended up going about .2 miles an hour, but it was really beautiful, in retrospect. Though, at the time, we couldn't stop laughing...

People waiting for the opening ceremonies on Sunday

A symbol of strength, the bird-woman zipline
kicked off Sunday's celebration

#1 job I would hate in Venezia- confetti sweeper.

And so, despite the fact that we had to move at a snail's pace most of the time because of the crowds and the fact that I returned with a cold, I had a wonderful time in a beautiful city that I never imagined I would see. Carnevale in Venezia is one of those things you hear about in Italian class and never expect to see, but to see it live and to be there to enjoy it was wonderful, and it reminded me why I wanted to study abroad. To experience these amazing things first hand, instead of seeing them in pictures. Now that I am, I'm so happy with my decision to come and study here.

PS- Sorry this one is a bit all over the place. This blog editor is HATING me today.


  1. does the wine fountain actual have wine in it? cuz that's kind of ridiculously awesome.

  2. It does I think, but we didn't drink directly from the fountain. They said it was from there though, idk... It was pretty cool