So the trip to Venice was not exactly what I had expected, but at the same time it was everything I had expected. Having been to Venice in high school, I didn't just want to see Venice - I wanted to see it during Carnevale. I also wanted to go inside the Basilica di San Marco, which was being renovated last time.
Unfortunately only half of this really happened. We spent a majority of time window shopping and eating, which was definitely nice and relaxing, but the festivities were postponed due to the death of two workers, and the Basilica was closing when we finally arrived at the Piazza on Saturday evening at 5:30 pm. So we made it inside, but not to the top overlooking the Piazza. However, we had two wonderful, Italian-style meals which lasted 3 hours each: a dinner on Friday evening in a cozy Osteria, including various seafood for antipasti, primi and secondi piati (first and second plates), wine, and coffee. On Saturday afternoon we had a three-hour lunch for 6 with various pastas, a salmon dish, and EEL which were shared by all.
We attempted to take a gondola ride around 7:00 on Friday evening while waiting for the opening parties. Mistake. It lasted no more than 20 minutes ("25/30" was what they had told us) and didn't take us to where we had begun, plus the whole thing was very rushed. We complained but were then told that according to Italian law, the gondolas must be $80 flat for 40 minutes and $20 for every additional 20 minutes. So we were getting a deal, in other words, because we were only paying $60. We negotiated down to $50 after he recommended that we take it up with the cops, and our friend Dianna didn't seem to mind the prospect. I think he got a little scared but I was too. Dealing with Italian cops is not on my list of things to do here. Moral of the story: pay the $80 for a gondola ride, it's worth it and will take you back to where you started, not to where the gondolier needs to park his gondola at the end of the night :-P
We also discovered that the term "Parade" doesn't translate well. By "Parade" in the Piazza di San Marco, they mean a parade of PEOPLE and costumes, not like a marching parade with music and dancing. So we were sort of wondering the parade route and how that is possible in Venice and whether we would get to see any of it before leaving on Sunday evening. But really we saw it all... photos To Be Developed. The costumes were really cool and of course, I had to buy a mask!
Handmade in Italy :-)
Purchased directly from the artists as they were making more masks. Pretty much the best souvenir ever. It will be hanging on my wall back in Philly as it is now it Italy.