By Tierney Riccitelli, FFE 2015-16
After a face full of confetti that magically covers you from head to toe and gets in your mouth and inside your clothes, one could say that Carnivale is a wild celebration. In New Orleans, people lift up their shirts just to receive strings of beads to wear around their neck, but in Venice, you buy a bag of confetti and pelt people with it. Maybe you are like me and have determined what Carnivale is like based on Mardi Gras and the celebrations that take place in Rio and Otavalo, but this celebration is nothing like that.
In Venice, the streets are overly crowded with people. Imagine hundreds of thousands of people and then multiply it by two. Now imagine all of those people wearing masks or dressed up in fancy costumes. This is how Carnivale is celebrated in Venice. Of course, if you want to experience this event because it is part of the Italian culture, go right ahead! Every experience, good or bad, is still a memory you will hold forever. But here is some information you might want to know before you go.
One of the most popular items bought in Venice is the Venetian mask, an industry that I probably solely support with my addiction to adding to my collection. While I highly recommend purchasing a mask before Carnivale, not everyone has the ability to visit Venice more than once and would prefer not to buy their mask from a street vendor in Florence. The later during the season you go, the smaller the selection. Buying your mask near the port or any main attraction is a terrible idea. The prices skyrocket and you can end up paying thirty euro for something that is worth only ten or fifteen. Move inwards in the city to find a cheaper store. For a full-faced mask that comes with a stick to hold it up with, you can pay about eighteen euro instead of thirty. Those twelve euros could help to fund a gondola ride instead!
Riding in a gondola can be a fun experience but is very costly. The average ride costs eighty euros and can have a maximum of six people excluding the gondolier. The sights you see while on the gondola are completely dependent on where you decide to board one. It is highly suggested that you tip your gondolier, but it is optional. The best gondoliers sing to you as they paddle. Every gondola is custom made for the gondolier and the city requires very rigorous tests just to become a gondolier. Currently only one woman has ever passed every test.
Venice is a place that you can get lost in, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Venturing towards the center of this city is confusing, and every twist and turn makes you feel as though you are in a maze. But by doing this, the chances of discovering a restaurant with delicious food or a shop with the best souvenirs increases greatly. Just remember to pick a well-known landmark in case anyone gets lost or to help you find your way back. People can give you directions or signs on the streets can help you navigate.
With any trip, just have fun and be safe. At the end of the day, no one was hurt and everyone was just happy to have spent the day together when we went home. Yes, we spent a decent amount of money, but sometimes little splurges are needed to create memories with friends. Go to Carnivale or any other festival – anything new you can do with your time abroad should be attempted. When will you ever have the chance to do it again?