This past weekend I experienced Italian Carnival in Venice and in the beach city of Viareggio. Both were amazing but very different.
The beginning of our day at Carnival in Venice
The city of Venice was exactly what I pictured it to be. The buildings were close together and canals covered that city making it a gorgeous place. We spent all day trying to find the Piazza di San Marco which is where the main festival for carnival was located. When we first got there we ate at this small, cute restaurant and I had a delicious brie cheese and prosciutto pizza. Jess and Leah (best friends from Wisconsin) came to visit Florence that weekend and also came to Venice with us. After lunch, we wandered around the city and stopped in various mask shops until we found ones to our liking.
Mask shop where we bought ours
Me, Leah, Jess, Dana and Shira on one of the canals
After we walked for hours stopping in various shops we finally made it to the Piazza di San Marco by nighttime. It was a huge piazza filled with people and a stage blasting music. It was very cold but people were still gathered drinking wine and dancing. There were many interesting characters we saw throughout the square. We obviously joined in on the fun until it was time for us to go back to the bus. It took us hours to get to the piazza but we took a 20 minute boat ride back to the bus at the end of the day. It was a great day and I’m so grateful that I go to experience Venice carnival!
Dancing in Piazza di San Marco
Carnival in Viareggio had much more of a party element to it. When we arrived the sun was shining and music was already blasting! Our leader from our program Luca (we refer to him as our Italian dad) came with us and informed us of all the activities going on. The parade and festivities started at 3 o’clock but we had 2 hours before to grab some food and walk around. It is custom to throw confetti everywhere, so obviously my first goal was to purchase a big bag of confetti. After we ate Ilana, Kara and I went on a carousel ride and go to view the whole city and get a great view of the beach.
Ilana and I on the carousel
View of the beach from the carousel
The parade started at 3 and it was way cooler than I expected. There were a bunch of floats that were themed differently with people in costume dancing on top of them. People were also dancing in the streets and there were different, smaller floats in-between the big floats. The floats were extremely impressive and you can tell that they spent a year of work on them. The parade was very different than one that would happen in America because you could walk right up next to the floats. People would walk all around them and throw confetti or silly string at you. I got into about 8 confetti fights and pretty sure I’m still finding confetti in some of my clothes. We got drinks and danced in the streets with people to the different music blasting from the various floats. In many places in Italy they played American music, but the floats were mainly playing italian music and it made the experience even better.
Ilana, Kara and I with some characters
Some cool floats!
Dancing in the streets
Being from Manhattan Beach, it is no surprise that I obviously loved the town of Viareggio. It reminded me a lot of Manhattan Beach because the boardwalk was right on the beach and all the people were so nice. I could see myself moving there….just sayin’
Confetti and Champagne on the coast of Italy in Viareggio!