What a day we’ve had! Our first full day in Venice and it is Carnevale – Venice’s version of Mardi Gras, only it started here first.
There are parties, balls, concerts, and festivities all over town. But the main action is in St. Mark’s Square. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a website that offered tickets for a seated area and took a chance. I was a little nervous that it was a scam or wouldn’t be worth it, but I figured we’re only here once (at Carnevale at least), so we should give it a try.
The VIP Section
We made our way to St. Mark’s with a huge crowd, hardly getting lost at all. When we got there, almost every inch was filled with people – and more people lining every available balcony. Our email said to check in at the ticket booth. I thought, “Good luck finding that.” But we did and they switched our voucher for a ticket. Then a security man opened a door and let us behind the barricade. We were shocked! There were probably a thousand people on the square, but only a couple of hundred in the VIP section. We had plenty of room, cocktail tables and chairs, a wine bar, and even a bathroom. Plus we could walk right up to the stage and take pictures whenever we wanted. Wow.
Flight of the Eagle
One of the highlights was the Volo Aquila – the Flight of the Eagle. It is a tradition that someone is chosen to “fly” down a wire that is constructed between the tower in St. Mark’s Square down to the stage. This year they choose a Paralympian (Giusy Versace) who lost both of her legs below the knee. She runs on blades. We all looked way up as she stepped out onto the platform and got buckled in. Then they played Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me” as she slowly made her way down across the tops of our heads and onto the stage. Everyone was crying.
Lunch On Stage
Then we got to go INTO the stage for lunch (this was another ticket I bought). They have boxes built into the sides of the stage that are heated and complete with white tablecloths and a three-course menu. We had a fun time sampling Venetian food while watching the action from the stage itself.
The Costumes of Carnevale
Then – what everyone was waiting for – the finals for the costume contest. Everywhere you walk you see elaborate costumes. Each day they join in a parade and are judged by the audience in the VIP section, who hold up red or green cards. There had been over 400 entries so far. So today, the finalists came back to strut their stuff on the runway. The judges were professional costume designers who even inspect the material and stitching and hold up a red or green mask to determine whether someone makes it to the next round. Everyone was riveted to see what colors they would hold up and would cheer or groan if they did or didn’t like the choice.
Finally, as it was gettng dark, the top 20 were chosen and took the stage once more. There was much debate. But a winner was chosen for Best Theme (The Venetian Kitchen – why some of the costumes appear to be food-related), Best Originality (which went to a fabulous man dressed as CoCo Chanel’s sofa – he was our favorite), and Overall (stunning costumes of Eros and two lovers).
We literally danced all the way home, we were so excited.
Bonne Nuit – and Let the Good Times Roll!
Christy & Frank