Mardi Gras Italian Style- Carnevale di Venezia

After my dream-like day in Tuscany it was early to bed so we could leave for a seven hour bus ride at 6 a.m. the following day. Still groggy and half asleep we boarded the bus and proceeded to sleep until we arrived, then it was off to the water taxis to take us to beautiful Venice for a fun-filled day of Carnevale.

This is a festival that takes place annually in Venice and is named for its elaborate masks and outfits that people work months on and are truly beautiful creations. It takes place leading up to Lent and ends the day before Ash Wednesday.

The costumes of Carnevale

Immediately upon arrival we all outfitted ourselves with our favorite masks, each surprisingly perfectly fitting our personalities. Afterwards it was time to roam around for some lunch and vino.

My purple feathery mask!
My purple feathery mask!

After drinking wine and doing shots with our waiter at lunch it was exploring and making our way over the famous St. Mark’s Square- known for the breathtaking basilica and an absurd amount of birds. However, because of the festival, people and DJs, we were lucky enough that there was not nearly as many birds as there usually are. We admired the church and all of the costumes we saw and I truly appreciated the amount of work that goes into creating these amazing works of art.

We continued on our way and stumbled upon the Ponte dei Sospiri. I was completely overcome with excitement because I have a poster of this bridge on my wall in my bedroom at school and was in disbelief that I was now standing in front of it! It is even more gorgeous in person and this surprising discovery made my day!

Ponte dei Sospiri
Ponte dei Sospiri

After yelling to all of my friends that “I HAVE THIS POSTER IN MY ROOM” and truly looking like an American we continued on to the Ponte di Rialto but not before stopping off at bakery and arming ourselves with personal bottles of wine and donuts. Looking even more American as we drank from our bottles on the streets of Venice we stopped for some shopping and then had a photo shoot on the beauty that is Ponte di Rialto.

Ponte di Rialto
View from the Ponte di Rialto
View from the Ponte di Rialto

After that our group was separated as some of us wanted to walk around and keep sight seeing and others (who shall remain nameless) went searching for absinthe. Having no interest, some of my friends and I walked a little bit and bumped into a smaller square filled with people dancing and a DJ blasting some really good music. This was exactly my scene as I love to dance around and we spent the rest of our evening dancing and laughing with each other.

We were having a blast until we realized that we had 45 minutes to find our friends and somehow make it back to the buses. Needless to say this did not happen. We ran into our friends out of pure fate and then proceeded to lose them again. Myself, my sorority sister Kate, her boyfriend Erik and his friend Matt were left completely lost and I was officially freaking out.

Having multiple panic attacks and spending a fortune of money in attempts to call my step mom and sister in New Jersey I was not in the least bit helpful as Erik called the tour guides and begged them to wait for us and attempted to follow the directions they were giving us. I’m pretty sure I blocked out most of this traumatic experience but apparently I was telling everyone to find me a water taxi and have it take me to the nearest five-star hotel. Apparently when I’m in a crisis the remedy is to sleep in a hotel with a high thread count. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately- that bed wold have been more comfortable than sleeping on a bus for seven hours) we got to the buses an hour late and everyone probably hated us.

Exhausted from a long day and emotionally drained from the last hour and a half I passed out right away and the next thing I knew we were back in Rome and I was never happier to fall into my bed and sleep the day away.

Even though the day ended quite dramatically, it didn’t take away from the majesty of Venice and the fact that it is one of the prettiest and most interesting places I have ever been to. I was never able to take a gondola ride because they are extremely expensive, but hey, it’s a perfect excuse to return, maybe on my honeymoon when my new husband can pay for it 🙂

St. Mark's Square
St. Mark’s Square
St. Mark's Basilica
St. Mark’s Basilica

“Think of the magic of that foot, comparatively small, upon which your whole weight rests. It’s a miracle, and the dance is a celebration of that miracle.”- Martha Graham

Published by Alexa Lardieri

I am a reporter and digital producer for the Civic section of U.S. News & World Report, where I write about breaking news. I came to U.S. News in 2016 as a researcher and writer for the Rankings and Reviews section and in 2017, joined the news team, where I helped launch America 2020. I have previously worked for as a reporter and social media specialist and was an editor for several outlets at my alma mater. I am a graduate of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park. You can follow me on Twitter (@arlardieri) and Facebook (/AlexaRLardieri) or connect with me on LinkedIn (/in/alexa-lardieri).

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