Attend an exclusive gala dinner at the Arsenal
Starring at Venice Carnival!
Get your mask and be part of the show
I had been in Venice many times, but never during Carnival season. The trip started with a train late in the morning, coming to Venice at half past one. If you travel by train in couple on Saturday, you can save a ticket thanks to a special 2×1 promo! We took the vaporetto (the steamboat) to San Marco Giardinetti, we walked few steps and we arrived at the hotel (Mercurio Hotel, Calle Frezzera, recommended for a very friendly staff and excellent location, 200 mt far from Piazza San Marco).
We quickly realized that Carnival makes the whole atmosphere different: there are people masked everywhere, someone chooses wild beast subjects, some others 18th century Venetian nobles masks, or the Barbarians. In Venice also the people who lead the boats are masked! You feel a general desire of fun, forgetting for a day one’s everyday problems. Big drama, we had no costume! But in Venice it takes little to disguise and be part of Carnival: a cape and a mask and you’re done. We delved into the narrow streets to find out how and where masquerade. There are so many opportunities in Calle Lista di Spagna, near the Railway’s bridge, you can rent a theatre costume from 50 euros, or you can find many shops with masks at all prices. My choice was mask, cloak and hat, for a total of 35 euros. That’s perfect! I have to admit that Venice isn’t such an expensive city as I remember it was in the past, now the prices look average.
We started to be excited for the evening: thanks to Italia Slow Tour newsletter, I booked my place at Temptations Gala Dinner at the Arsenal! The discount reserved for those who buy the soirée through Italia Slow Tour is not so high (10 euros), but it allows you to buy the “Unica Venezia” transport card, paying out only 10 euros for the whole day!
Before the party, we had a glass of Prosecco at the lounge bar of the Carnival Concert on Piazza San Marco. We set in the square wearing our masks, tasting a great wine with some bruschetta (a toasted bread, topped with oil and chopped tomatoes). We payed 7 euros for two people, not bad for a city renowned for its high prices!
Then we were ready for Gala Dinner. Our invitation at the evening of Temptations suggested us to go to the landing stage of Zaccaria. The steamboat brought us to the Arsenal (a special stop during the Carnival season). The entry into the Arsenal was triumphant: we entered the very moment of the fireworks. The whole Arsenal’s Tower was decorated with striking images.
The entrance door of the Temptations’ evening was shaped like an ancient lock. At the first floor a magnificent and completely restored space welcomed us. We sat at our table with other people and both Venetians and foreigners, we all were surprised by this place: the tower once used to build galleys, today was turned into a unique stage that can convey a pleasant atmosphere of Temptations.
It was a show-dinner: some of the guests were masked, some others just very well dressed, but this was an opening night, no one knew what to expect. The dishes were all delicious and accompanied by sensual dances, interspersed with acrobatic performances and romantic songs. A real evening of Temptations.
After the dinner we met the guys who celebrated the Night of Arsenal, that will continue until February 15th. The Arsenal is still amazing as it was in the past. This place historically anticipated many centuries the concept of factory, based on an assembly line through the use of standard components. The Serenissima, the Republic of Venice, was able to produce large numbers of boats and what was necessary to its fleet, which allowed it to be the largest factory ship of the world for a long time. The recovery of these spaces could help to tell this story, creating at the same time new forms of entertainment in a unique safe environment.
Thanks Venice, once again you impressed me!
One last suggestion: visit the Venice Carnival and book the Temptations Gala dinner, it is worth it.
Visit Venice: helpful hints
Italian name: Venezia
The Venice Airport is an international airport. To reach the city centre you can take a bus (it takes 20 minutes and costs 8€) or either a boat to cross the lagoon (15€). The nearest airport for transcontinental flights is the Bologna Airport. From the airport, first you have to reach Bologna Central Station by bus (rides every 15 minutes, it takes 30 minuts, 6€). Then, from the Central Station you can choose between the train and the bus to get to Venice. There are many trains (you can choose between Trenitalia or Italo companies), reaching Venice in 1h 30. Otherwise you can choose Flixbus and get to Venice in 2 hours.
The best way to visit Venice is on foot and across the lagoon and the canals by vaporetto ferry boat (single ticket: 7,5€ for 75 minutes). Check the ACTV website for more.
You may also enjoy a tour on the famous gondole, the typical venetian slim boats floating on the canals led by standing men… why not, just consider that it is a quite expensive tourist experience: a day tour is about 80€, by night about 100€.
What to do
Venice is the capital city of Veneto region, North Eastern Italy. No need of introduction, we guess. Venice is one of the Italian symbols worldwide, one of the most iconic place in the world, with tons of imitations, from Far East to Vegas.
The whole lagoon and part of the city are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Highlights, for sure Piazza San Marco and the Palazzo Ducale. The canals, of course – Canal Grande on top – with all the romantic bridges crossing them (perfect location for proposals and love swearing, by the way). Read a full itinerary by our US Ambassador Virginia, while here you can find some ideas for a one day tour.
The Venice Lagoon counts up to 118 small islands, see Burano, famous for its colorful houses, and Murano famous for the craft production of glass. Here is a full itinerary touching many of the islands.
Planning your trip, try to be in Venice in February to attend its majestic Carnival celebrations (check Carnevale di Venezia official web site for updates). Check also The Biennale web site for the events of arts & architecture fair and to attend the great Venice Film Festival.
Where to sleep
In Venice everything is very expensive, accomodation included. A better choice to save some money would be to sleep in the nearby cities like Mestre or Padua, reaching Venice just for sightseeing.