While studying my Master’s in Europe, one of the big decisions I had to make was deciding where I should celebrate my first New Year’s out of the Philippines. It was a toss between Paris and Venice, but in the end I chose to spend it in the romantic city built on water. But my spirits shrunk when I heard that the Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) was flooded because of the Acqua Alta (high water) that made travel there difficult. Although I was not able to countdown the New Years at the UNESCO Heritage Site of the very famous square, my hosts told me not to fret, as the best of Venice unmasks during the Carnival.
The principal festivities centered on the weekend right before Ash Wednesday. And so six weeks after the New Year, I found myself wandering the labyrinth of canals once more. This time, Venice transformed into a masquerade ball larger than life. The streets and canals were crowded with masked tourists all headed to Piazza San Marco. There, the best of the best costumes convened and stepping into the Piazza became a stroll back in time to the Renaissance. Everyone was eager to show off the opulence and magnificence that Venice was once known for.
Steeped in history, the Carnival attracts travellers from all over the world. And it isn’t hard to see why: Masquerade balls were held left and right in historic palaces. Each highlighted Venice’s cultural heritage whether it be a celebration of poems, ballads, music or dance.
Of course a trip to Venice is easily synonymous with a gondola ride. I still remember my friend telling me that her dream proposal is riding a gondola and being serenaded while dining over Italian wine and cheese. It is a dream that is perhaps shared by every girl on the planet, as the canals were filled with tourists on any day of the year, all of them eager to cross the gondola experience off their bucket lists.