Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mardi Gras, Venetian Style

Carnevale, the Italian way of doing Mardi Gras, is a huge 2 week long celebration in Venice that leads up to Fat Tuesday every year. I've never been to Mardi Gras so it would be wrong for me to attempt to compare the two but to give an idea its like New Orleans but with beautiful masquerade masks and elaborate costumes in place of the beads and well, what comes with the beads...

Murano Island
We arrived in Venice just in time to head to Murano, the famous glass blowing island, for lunch and a little glass demonstration. Having heard that Venice was known for their seafood I decided to order the salt crusted sea bass... sounds pretty normal/safe right? Well let's just say I had the entire restaurant staring at me when the waiter brought this to the table....

Though extremely skeptical at first and terrified of the astronomical price this thing must have been that I somehow managed to completely overlook, I managed to recover from my embarrassment. After watching the waiter literally break its back bone and slice into the thing, I somehow ended up with a decent looking, edible piece of fish (definitely some of the best I've ever eaten).

After my fishy experience we set out for a quick glass blowing demo before heading to the big celebration. We stumbled upon an empty glass blowing warehouse and had a private demonstration, getting to see a man transform a piece of 600 degree Celsius glass into a beautiful horse.

Glass Blowing Warehouse
Once back on the main Island, after waiting in line to go to the bathroom for almost an hour we got our faces painted and headed to party.

The little windy streets were packed full of people in costume all leading to the big square, the heart of the celebration. Almost everyone was in costume and wearing masks. I could have people watched for days. The ornamentation and flamboyancy of the costumes were AMAZING (and occasionally slightly frightening). I was truly mesmerized. There was so much to look at between all the performances and the characters, not to mention the beauty of Venice itself. Everywhere you looked could be a painting. I can't wait to go back with my family in April without all the crowd.

We ended the night with another wonderful meal where I once again recieved a whole fish presented to me at the table. I thought "grilled sea bass" would be a safer choice but I guess not... At least I know it was fresh...

All in all I loved Venice and had so much fun at Carnevale. It was definitely an experience I will never forget and probably never see anything like it again.


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