Even though we get to celebrate holidays like Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, and Valentine’s Day during the coldest months of the year, somehow most of us find ourselves yearning for a vacation before the spring hits. Though spending winter in Venice, Italy isn’t something that readily comes to mind, it should definitely be considered.
A place like Venice “hits the spot” with its crisp, clear days, exciting activities, as well as its wintry serenity. The landscape becomes hauntingly beautiful, with fog permeating the city and the chance of snowfall at any minute. If you like photography, this is a perfect place to capture the lightly grayed, slanted light of Venice – winter produces eerie, yet spectacular images. Lovers of romantic scenery will certainly be wooed.
Better Prices, Lesser Crowds
Budget travelers and those preferring smaller tourist crowds will be pleasantly surprised. A winter vacation can be much easier on your budget. You can travel to Venice for a cheaper rate than in the spring and summer. Though it’s hard to say you’d ever find cheap hotels in Venice, during this time, you are sure to see lower prices than normal. Moreover, since winter is the “off season,” Venice has fewer crowds, meaning fewer lines at museums and other attractions. Traveling between November and March often yields much cheaper flights than during any other months.
Venetian Hot Chocolate
Before I go onto any other subject, I have to mention hot chocolate. Venice is known for its art of chocolate making and indulging. This is not anything like Starbucks (though I must say, Starbucks’s Hazelnut hot chocolate is outrageous). Venetians make this irresistible drink thicker, richer and smoother than mousse. If your stomach is sensitive to decadent sweets, don’t worry, you’ll get just the right amount with those European portions! If you need more, there’s always the chance to get morning chocolate, afternoon chocolate, evening chocolate, and of course in between.
During the Venice off-season, Venetian opera, symphony, and theatre are in full swing. During Inverno Veneziano – the Venetian Winter Festival, which has been going on for the past seven years from November to February, the arts are really celebrated all winter long. It is a diverse festival, full of special events and concerts to enjoy. This year Celtic music was introduced into the festival, among its traditional Gospel music concerts, art exhibits, and gastronomy events. To make it even more invigorating, most of these events are held in historical churches and villas.
If you want to see a bit of unstructured performance, or even take part in it, then you should visit Venice during Carnivale. Carnivale is much like Mardi Gras in the U.S., except in Italy, the people go wild for almost a fortnight instead of a day! The annual “party” festival lasts about two weeks and ends on Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), the day before Ash Wednesday. During this time, the Venetians celebrate their freedoms before the 40 days of Lent, a practice that dates back to the 13th century.
People dress up in elaborate costumes and don classically decorated Carnivale masks to hide their mischievous behavior while partying. Venice is much more crowded during Carnivale, for sure, but most tourists are only there for the playful festivities. Unless you are on the streets designated for the festival, most of the other areas of the city are empty, so you can get away from the crowds if need be. Though this years Carnivale has just wrapped-up, it’s something that should definitely go on your must-see list on your next winter visit to Venice.