When you think of romance and travel, there are a few iconic destinations that are bound to appear in your mind’s eye. Beautiful Paris might flicker into focus for some, while the fairytale spires of Prague might appeal to others. But we’d hazard a guess that amongst the list of usual suspects, Venice will be waiting, shrouded in dreamy magic and mystery.
However, we implore you to cast aside the notion that Venice is all about drifting along on a gondola while a man in a stripy shirt croons love songs to you and your beloved. The sinking city isn’t just for couples; its siren song speaks to groups of friends, families and even singles, keen to lose themselves amongst grandiose architecture, rich history and enticing culture.
Life’s a masquerade
Consider booking your trip to Venice in February, and you will find this intriguing city comes to life in a particularly special way – and no, we don’t mean for Valentine’s Day. In fact, V-Day in Venice is pretty much overshadowed by a much more impressive event – the famous Carnival, a spectacular celebration of music, dancing and elaborate costumes that last just over a fortnight.
The tradition of Carnival in Venice stretches back hundreds of years to when the city was in its party prime. Back in the 18th Century, the crowds would flock to Venice, resplendent in their ornate masks and fancy clothes, in order to pose, preen, dance and indulge in the sort of raucous revelry that only one who had his identity concealed could truly enjoy.
Nowadays, the celebrations bring in revellers from all over the world – expect rates to rise and crowds to swell. However, this unique occasion is truly worth the bedlam that comes alongside. As well as water-borne pageants, re-enactments, street artists and bands entertaining the crowds by day, the various squares of Venice come to life with masquerade parties by night. There are also a number of ticketed masquerade parties and balls, some of which cost hundreds of pounds to attend. Venice’s reputation as a hotspot for high society is still going strong.
The winds of winter
If you’re in the market for a bit of sun, sea and sand, Venice in February may not be the right holiday for you. But if crisp blue skies, masquerade and cobbled streets appeal to your sense of adventure, it might be time to book that ticket.
Winter is the best time to explore the winding streets of Venice – summers can get uncomfortably hot for sightseeing. St. Mark’s Square, the Campanile and the Doge’s Palace are all stunning sights, and it’s well worth taking a gondola trip or the waterbus along the magnificent Grand Canal to admire the glories of Venetian architecture lining its banks. However, we’d say that the true essence of Venice is contained within the atmospheric backstreets that riddle the city, where exquisite churches and captivating galleries await and quaint craft shops keep the traditional artistry of the past alive. Expect to see artisans working on products such as the famous Murano glass and Burano lace as well as bespoke shoes, sculptural jewellery and much more besides.
When it’s time to warm the cockles of your heart with food and drink, you will find a smattering of tiny trattorias offering their service, hidden amongst the enchanting alleyways. Fresh pizza, pasta and fish, the latter straight from the local market, can be found in abundance – this is Italy after all – and if you find it’s too chilly to entertain a glass of sparkling Prosecco, indulge in a thick Venetian hot chocolate that will take you straight to food heaven and back.
If you’re already clearing your diary in February to make room for your Venetian escape, don’t forget to book the right travel insurance for your trip. We offer a range of plans to suit a variety of needs, so that you can rest easy on your travels, knowing that we’ve got you covered.