I was always very excited to visit Venice, Italy, but this town completely blew my expectations out of the water (literally!). The town was colorful and charming, full of amazing little shops, and the narrow canals throughout the city made it very unique and beautiful.
It was very easy to travel to Venice for a day trip from Florence. We hopped on a train for about two hours and arrived at the station right on the water. From the station, we could take a ferry to the center of the city, San Marco. Once arriving at San Marco, I enjoyed touring the church, wandering through the charming shops, and grabbing lunch at a local restaurant.
After spending some time touring the beautiful area, we enjoyed a gondola ride along the canals through the city. Gondola rides in Venice are a bit expensive (plan for about 80E for a 25 minute ride), but they are 100% worth the money. The ride gave me an entirely new perspective on the town, and the views from the water are so different from the little roads and bridges. Riding the gondola in Venice is one of my favorite activities so far that I have done in all of Europe. Budget the money ahead of time and do it!
While shopping around Venice, you will notice a lot of two things, murano glass and a lot of Venetian masquerade masks. Both of these items are very unique to the area and I would highly suggest buying a little something to take home. Murano glass is a specialty of Venice’s Murano island. In Venice, you will find the colorful glass in the form of beautiful, unique, beads for jewelry, adorable little figurines, chandeliers, and a lot of elegant glassware for the home. I chose to buy a few different glass pendants that I could later hang from a chain of my own. An easy, lightweight, (and cheap!), way to bring that unique piece of Venice home with me.
Now, before I get into the nitty gritty of these masks, you’re probably wondering what these are all about right? Well each year, Venice holds a festival called the ‘Carnival of Venice’. This festival is about ten days long and ends with the Christian celebration of Lent the day before Ash Wednesday. The festival was started all the way back in the 11th century and today has become a world famous event. Masks have always been an important feature of the Venetian carnival, along with costumes, and each year there is even a contest for the most beautiful and elaborate mask.
As far as masks in Venice go, I chose to buy two different styles with the intention of using them as decor when I return home. So many stores in Venice sell these amazing masks that it is hard to pick the best place to get them from. Overall, if you are really into the story behind the masks, and you want to get an authentic piece, spend a little more and make sure to buy a mask that is made of the paper mache/plaster material versus the cheap plastic kind. I found that this type of mask is more authentic and often painted by a local artist. The type of masks that I bought are said to each be unique in their own way by the artist. I love that the inside of each is signed and dated too!
(Below is a picture of my two new Venetian masquerade masks)