A carnival and Venice. Two words—two miracles. While any carnival is a wonderful event, the city of Venice is a wonder on its own. Yes, this lady is demanding to your wallet. But you are 50+, you worked hard for most of your life, and your financial advisor will not commit suicide if you spend 3-4 thousand Euro to realize your lifelong dream: to play a role in a show where you are the director, costume designer, sponsor, and superstar. The venue of the show is Italy, the theater is Venice, the stage is the city streets.
You can buy your carnival costume at an online shop of medieval dress or right in Venice. On the eve of the carnival, it is also possible to rent it. Is it too expensive for you? No problem. Just buy a white wig of the 18th century and a traditional mask, and you are in the game. In our case (Venice Carnival 2017), we found a compromise. We bought a costume and a headdress of a Florentine merchant in an Italian online shop, but the dress of his “wife” was sewn by the mother of… well… his wife. Many thanks, dear mother-in-law. Add some accessories and “diamond jewelry” purchased in some shop of dancing accessories and you have the “rich clothes” of a medieval Florentine lady. Oh, yes, buy two traditional Venetian Carnival masks in a Chinese shop around the corner.
Drum roll. Your first entrance onto the stage. Your heart is beating like hell, legs are shivering and wobbling. Welcome, your majesty, Adrenaline. We are going down the staircase from our hotel room, and doing it slowly and proudly. Slowly, because my wife, Irina, is not accustomed to walking in long dresses, so we are afraid to step on the bottom of her dress and to get to the first floor much faster than we expect. People, climbing the staircase, freeze open-mouthed, then step aside to let us pass. Irina’s dress is too wide for two on the narrow staircase of this ancient Venetian house. Grazie mille.
Streets, squares, embankments, gondolas, caffès: everywhere you get more attention than you’ve probably ever had in your life. Tourists take your photo, some of them ask permission to take a picture with you and even to kiss your hand (not mine). You have dropped at least 30 years. You are young and romantic again. You are happy.
Gentlemen, as you know, if our lady is happy, we are twice as happy, so we get more for our money.
The first part of our day was devoted to the carnival, the second part—to Venice itself. This magical city is not young, and it understands the meaning of life, as you do, right? Therefore this city is for us, 50+, and it is beautiful. Walk around and enjoy the views. Take a gondola and enjoy the views. Tired? Enter any trattoria, and you will get beautiful pasta, beautiful seafood, beautiful wine, beautiful cappuccino, and beautiful sweets. No. Forget the last one. Sweets and an ice-cream are so yummy there that they will kill you much sooner than in any other part of the world.
You have been warned! Enjoy Venice and your finest hour.
Several useful tips
1. You should stay and walk just in the district of carnival events, around St Mark’s Square. Those citizens of Venice who don’t benefit from the carnival don’t like the participants of this carnival.
2. Ride on gondolas where you want and do it in carnival costumes. You will look natural and be shown in the best possible light.
3. Gentlemen, if your medieval carnival outfit has no pants (like mine), put on two pairs of warm black tights. It will be winter by the way.
4. A white wig is not just a carnival accessory. It is a warm cap covering your ears.
5. If your suitcase allows, take high rubber boots without zippers with you. During high tide, hotels give (and some shops sell) something like cellophane boots to their guests, but such footwear is very weak.
6. You should book a hotel half a year in advance, otherwise the price will be twice as high and choice be limited.