For those of you who don’t know what to expect from it, be ready for the unexpected. Hopefully you will be enchanted by a foggy day, where people with long cloaks and masks mysteriously appear and disappear on the ancient Venetian alleys (calli), or maybe you will be lucky enough to experience Carnival in Venice under a blanket of snow as it is today.
One of the first things for you to do once in town, is to get a costume and a mask. There are various Venetian costume-shops where you can choose from dozens of rental costumes. Not only to show off in St. Mark’s square but even in local private parties. For a XVIII century Venetian dress be ready to spend around 150-200 euros for the first day and around 50-70 euros for the next one.
But if you are on a budget or interested in something still typical but more intriguing, this is what we suggest. Find yourself a white or gold ‘bauta’ (plain typical Venetian mask which should cost between 10-17 euros) a pair of black or white gloves and a long black cloak. Put some white make up on your face, a beauty-spot on your cheek, red lipstick (even for men) and you are done!! You will certainly be asked to pose for tourists pics. Also, do not wait for a party to get masked. On those days you are allowed to mask yourself everywhere everyday. At least this was in the past. You can then take your mask home with you as a souvenir or a gift from your Venetian trip!
Where to find your Carnival mask or learn more about the history of the Venetian mask ? There are many street vendors where you can buy anything from mass-produced paper to handcrafted papier-mâché and leather masks by skilled artisans. But for a quality mask or simply for curiosity, you should visit one of the workshops where masks are made on the premises. Here a couple of the most famous in Venice.
Mondonovo (Rio Terra Canal, Dorsoduro 3063 near Campo Santa Margherita: take vaporetto line N.1 and stop at Ca’ Rezzonico; phone +39 041287 344).
Laboratorio Artigiano Maschere (Barbaria delle Tole, Castello 6657 near the SS Giovanni e Paolo church: stop at the Ospedale vaporetto station; phone: +39 041522 3110
Also be prepared to spend quite a lot in Venice for an accommodation during Carnival period. Hotels are usually fully booked since the previous year because of course.. any tourist would love to be there in that period. For budget accommodation in Venice consider hostels as Ai Musici hostel, ai Mori Hostel or il Veliero Romantico youth hostel very close to the Train Station. Apartments are also a good solution, some of them (for 5 people) cost around 160 euros.
Alternative solutions still interesting could be in Mestre and the Riviera del Brenta where also many events ( theatres, concerts, parties in Villas) are regularly held for Carnival.