Venetian Nights: How The Historic Enclave Transforms Into A Playground For The Rich & Famous During Carnival

St. Mark’s Square

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Since the 11th century, Venetians have been celebrating the last few days before Lent with fairytale merriment, masquerade balls, and extravagant feasts. This winter, Venice was in the media spotlight after devastating floods filled St. Mark’s Square and forced merchants to close, leaving tourists stunned. Luckily the water subsided, and by spring Venice was again lively and ready to welcome the world to Carnival. Along with strolling through the historical allies of Venice and catching a glimpse of masked party-goers, Carnival offers a plethora of divine diversions.

Producer Antonia Sautter

Photo Credit: Antonia Sautter Productions

Il Ballo del Doge: Vanity Fair says that one of the most coveted events in the world is Il Ballo del Doge. It is considered by many, including the Wall Street Journal, as the most sumptuous, refined and exclusive masquerade party in the world. For a certain type of pedigree, the ball is on their list of 100 things to do at least once in life. It is held in the historical, and majestic palace Pisani Moretta, which is located on the Grand Canal. The only way to get to the ball is by water taxi or gondola. 

The Blue Room overlooking the Grand Canal: Ca’ Cerchieri Loredan Palazzo

Photo Credit: Views on Venice

This year the theme was “The Magnificent Ephemeral: Dream, Folly, and Sin.” Four-hundred guests donned magnificent 14th-century costumes with bedazzled masks and were greeted at the palace pier with dancing fairies, paparazzi, and crystal flutes of champagne. The entertainment included naked muses, live snakes, a kingly opera singer, and much more.

Murano glass

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Murano Glass: Other enchanting adventures include day trips to Murano to visit the glass-making factories and shop for fine artisanal jewelry and beautiful glass baubles. The best option for getting to Murano is by private water taxi. It is a scenic 30-minute ride with incredible views of Venice from afar.

A pitcher of bellinis at Harry’s Bar

Photo Credit: Harry’s Bar

Iconic Cocktails: According to the lore at Harry’s Bar, Bostonian Harry Picking frequented an establishment at Hotel Europa where Guiseppe Cipriani was a bartender. Cipriani lent Picking some money and when Picking came back to repay the bartender, two years later, he brought the loan and then some. Picking said, “Mr. Cipriani, thank you, here’s the money I owe you and to show my appreciation, here’s significantly more, enough to open a bar. We will call it Harry’s Bar.” So a legendary and timeless watering hole was opened. If you are lucky, Mr. Cipriani, the son of the founder, will come to your table and introduce himself. Don’t forget to order the bar’s signature cocktail, a Bellini made with fresh white peach juice.

Gritti Palace

Photo Credit: Gritti Palace

Best Hotel: Another historic gem is the Gritti Palace. The opulent five-star hotel has been a favorite destination for the rich and famous for decades. Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and Count Henri de La Celle were a few of the celebs who would drop in regularly. Peggy Guggenheim also hosted her 80th birthday at the hotel.

The formal dining Room: Ca’ Cerchieri Loredan Palazzo

Photo Credit: Views on Venice

Grand Views: For the ultimate experience, renting a private palazzo is a must. Find a palazzo on the Grand Canal and enjoy amazing views of Venice through the eyes of Venetian nobility. Most palazzos are privately owned and can only be found through exclusive services like Views on Venice, which specializes in curated experiences of the city. Along with booking palazzos, the staff can set up private chefs, in-room massages, tours, water taxis, and seamless transportation to and from the airport.

Clarissa Mosley, Shirley Scott, Joel Goodrich, Mark Calvano, Teresa Rodriguez, Jarrod Baumann, Greg Malin, Nick Domitrovich, and Tatian Takaeva

Photo Credit: Views on Venice

Carnival: If your dream is to visit Venice during Carnival, start planning now since the rest of the world wants to enjoy the decadent delights that can only be found in Venice during that time. It truly is an extraordinary week when the city dresses up, musicians fill the streets, and the global glitterati gathers around candlelit tables and toast to the finer things in life.

About the author: Teresa Rodriguez celebrated her birthday in Venice with eight of her friends at Il Ballo del Doge. They rented Ca’ Cerchieri Loredan, a private palazzo on the Grand Canal. Guests from San Francisco included Joel Goodrich, Mark Calvano, Jarrod Baumann, Greg Malin, Nick Domitrovich, and Tatian Takaeva. Shirley Scott traveled from New York to attend, and Clarissa Mosley flew in from Sydney.

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