The Venice Carnival needs little introduction. First held in 1162 in celebration of the Venice Republic’s victory over its enemy, the Patriarch of Aquileia, the event sees the city transform into a spectacle of masks and balls, parades and parties. To visit during this time (this year it runs until Feb 21) is to enjoy Venice at its wildest – that is, if you know how to plan your trip right.
Throngs of visitors from all over the world arrive for the festivities, meaning the Serenissima can feel especially crowded, and its maze-like alleys hard to access without some preparation.
To help you do this revelry right, we’ve turned for advice to an adopted Venetian – Giulia Campeol, founder and designer of Allagiulia, aka the woman behind our favourite loafers, the Friulane.
While Giulia is originally from Treviso, Venice is almost like a second home to her, and a place she’s learned to navigate well over the years. So read on, take note, and get ready to revel like the locals – always wearing her super plush, extra comfy babouches, of course.
What would you recommend to those who come to Venice for the carnival for the first time?
The carnival period in Venice is as fascinating as it is feared, especially by those who are lucky enough to experience Venice frequently! Because of that, I definitely recommend patience, as there are many people who slow down the flow of the walk in the calli.
I’d also say to bring a camera. That’s an indispensable tool in Venice anytime anyway – I am fascinated and amazed by this city whenever I am here, even though I know it and frequent it often. But everything is even more special during the carnival, with all the masks and the blaze of colours.
What’s the best area of Venice to stay for the carnival?
Cannaregio or San Marco.
What is the one event not to be missed?
A ball. The most exclusive are the Ballo del Doge, the Grand Ball of Casanova and the Grand Ball at the Fenice. Unmissable.
What about the dress code, for those of us not wearing a costume?
I’d bring a mask to cover your face, and the Friù in matching colours to walk and dance everywhere.
Is there a shop that you would recommend to someone who wants to buy a mask?
La Bauta or the Marega atelier which, among other things, organises the Casanova Ball.
Is there a culinary specialty that one must try during the carnival? And where would you recommend doing it?
The fritelle, the gastronomic symbol par excellence of the Venetian carnival. My favourite pastry shop for them is Rizzardini, along the road from Campo San Polo to Rialto. It’s a bottega that has not succumbed to modern restorations, and still shows amazing Art Nouveau furniture and a crazy eye for quality craftsmanship.