Tomorrow is the first day of Venice’s world renowned Carnival, and speaking of study abroad, this week’s #FlashbackFriday is a trip I took to Venice, Italy while studying in Milan.
I’ve actually never been to Venice during Carnival, and considering I am generally terrified of people in masks, the idea isn’t top on my bucket list. Proper Venetian masks are gorgeous works of art and I quiver at the sight of a tall, handsome Italian man in a tux and a plague doctor mask, but in a controlled dinner party setting. However, you should go to Venice, and during Carnival!!! I am a huge proponent of everyone going to Venice, because it’s sinking! It could be all the years of studying Latin that I think a Pompeii-like disaster could befall some cities at any time.
2006 was my first time in Venice. It was late September, rainy, dark, brooding and perfect. There are really very few sites that compare with approaching the Venetian lagoon by boat or Vaporetto and seeing the dome of the Santa Maria della Salute and the doge palace seemingly rise out of the water. The Grand Canal of Venice is really awe-inspiring and it is no wonder that it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. I was with a large group of American study abroad classmates and we took a short train ride from Milan. If you’re ever in Milan for Fashion Week. I highly recommend a day trip to Venice and Murano. Friends Shala Monroque and Michele Elie actually did this during September Fashion Week for lunch one day and I feel like a non-fashion week, mid-fashion week excursion was the epitome of chic (we’ll see more of this trip in later posts!). I had an amazing time wandering the streets of Venice with my friend Kate who is like an art history encyclopedia and total foodie (more on choosing your travel buddies in later posts), but there were definitely a few things that I had to go back to Venice and correct the second time around. So here’s what not to do on your first trip to Venice!
- Venice may have been called La Serenissima in it’s glory days, but I wouldn’t say it’s the most serene place. Understandably so, crowds flock to this city; I’ve heard figures like over 60,000 tourists a day. If you can help it, do not go during the summer, peak tourist season. I’d suggest late fall if you’re trying to avoid the rainy winter and early spring months, when flooding is so extreme they build makeshift bridges in Piazza San Marco.
- Speaking of Piazza San Marco, it is breathtaking, and an absolute must see, but if you’re hungry, for the most part, avoid the restaurants around the square, especially if you’re lured in by waiters speaking English, promising an amazing dining experience. The restaurants right off San Marco tend to be extremely over-priced and frankly so so. For the most mouth-watering meals, on the main island, get lost. Wander down back alleys, off of main piazzas, where there are no English menus. The most amazing meal I had in Venice was a squid-ink risotto in Murano.
- Don’t go to Venice with 10 other English speaking students on your abroad program. The streets are too narrow for all of that Americana.
- As I mentioned before, when we arrived to Venice, it was raining. We didn’t mind because there were less crowds and we wandered in peace. But Venice is obviously one of those places where a certain dampness and humidity is pervasive. No matter how beautiful and romantic it is, get out of the rain after about an hour a so, because you won’t be dry for the rest of the weekend, as we can attest.
- Don’t be tempted to go on a gondola ride after a few glasses of vino. You’ll end up broke and it really isn’t that romantic with your girlfriends.
Check out my pics from the weekend below. And I’m sorry I was wearing a Gucci belt with my Gucci tote. In my defense, Kate encouraged the look and she’s in the midst of an amazing career in fashion including Vanity Fair and Marie Amelie, so we all make mistakes.