It seems to me that there are two kinds of travellers — those who plan everything meticulously down to the last detail and then those others- like us- who make decisions on the fly and sometimes luck out and find themselves just in the right place at the right time.
That’s what happened to us when we arrived in Venice – we had no idea that it was Carnival time and we lobbed in to find the festival in full swing with people wearing fabulous elaborate masks and even more elaborate costumes.
The weather was glorious and we were able to sit in the sunshine and eat lunch. Although we had both been to Venice twice before, we had never tried the traditional local dish Pasta al Nero di Seppia – pasta with squid ink – much beloved by Inspector Brunelli in the wonderful series of crime fiction books set in Venice and written by Donna Leon.
So there we were, twirling our silky smooth black spaghetti and enjoying the amazing and subtle flavour of the sea in every mouthful, when we started to notice a number of people strolling by with masks on. Then we became aware that there were also a number dressed in amazing costumes.
Then it dawned on us that we had arrived during Carnevale di Venezia – something I had wanted to see for years but never thought would happen – accommodation gets booked out so quickly besides which it is very expensive during this time of year.
Fortunately we were able to stay in our camper van at the car park near Mestre Station – for around 25 Euros – just a short walk from beautiful Venice.
After a leisurely lunch we strolled through the maze of alleyways, over canal bridges, through squares past all the amazing shops and headed towards St Mark’s Square. When we arrived it was absolutely packed!
Gondolas waiting for guests
We had walked into one of the highlights of the festival – the contest for the best masked costume which is judged by a panel of international costume and fashion designers. The catwalk was filmed and the contest projected on a huge screen behind the stage.
There were many people dressed up in their finery throughout St Mark’s Square.
Later we watched a parade with bands and musicians and many intriguing masked people in sumptuous costumes.
We thoroughly enjoyed just wandering through the crowds soaking in the atmosphere and catching sight of the participants in interesting and colourful masked costumes.
As the sun began to go down we boarded a vaparetto and headed for the campervan once again after an unforgettable and unexpected day at the Venice Carnival extravaganza.
A beautiful way to end the day