The HIgh Five of Venice, Carnevale

Spent two full days and nights in Venice last weekend for another 30 in 30: Celebrate Carnevale.

IMG_1594All this traveling and activity has taken a toll, however, and I have been sick with a fever, chills, muscle fatigue and congestion off and on for the last 10 days.  Heat Pads, saline sprays, heating pads, tea, soup, Tournament of Books reads, and inhaling the first season of Parks and Recreation occupy my sick leave. Plus recapping, my high five of attending Carnevale in Venice.

Venice’s carnivale is the oldest and most widely reputed celebrations leading up to Ash Wednesday and lent.  Masks abound, blurring the social classes and enticing the crowd to spend money. Indeed, there were many moments during our trip that the small street was so bursting with people that we could barely move. Exciting, interesting and super sensual.  Seeing all the costumes and grandeur of the city of course was the backdrop for this lovely short get away. IMG_1575

Here are the top five favorite experiences:

1) After meandering through confusing alley ways and bridges, one can feel overwhelmed that she’ll ever be oriented in Venice. Navigation is tricky at first and a lot of trial and error, map reading, gut listening and “do you speak english” questioning ensues. And then, I found a bar I’d been reading about for weeks. You see, the neighborhood’s hide away  unique baccari  that offer little munchies (like tapas) and wine by the glass or bottle.We found a wine bar in the Corte del Tentor by Campo St Bartolomeo that serve me the best wine I’ve had all year (on par with the one I sampled in Slovenia). Oaky, robust, generous and jazz like berries and tannins, the  2007 Tenuta Col d’Orcia Olmaia Cabernet Sant’Antimo was heaven. The owner explained that it tasted like an easy “cousin of the Brunello”. A new wine find! We had, ahem, two bottles between 6 of us. And even tried to go back on Sunday to bring one home, but alas, the wine bar was closed.

IMG_1629Here is what my education discovered:

Sant’Antimo wine region: The Sant’Antimo DOC takes its name from the magnificent Romanesque 12th-century Abbey of Sant’Antimo, which sits in a valley surrounded by vineyards. Located in Tuscany’s Montalcino area in central Italy, this DOC covers almost precisely the same production zone as the prestigious Brunello di Montalcino DOCG and its DOC siblings, Rosso di Montalcino and Moscadello di Montalcino.

2)  Paradise Lost (another wine bar!) and the restaurant Da Rioba, both in the Canneregio neighboorhood of Venice. Why highlights? Every person passing by was a local, around my age or older (but hip!) and smiling. Paradise lost was the last baccari visited and it did not disappoint. Superb octopus and marinated green beans. Down the street is Da Rioba. The flavors rich, the food at Da Rioba superbly prepared and succulently pleasing (the best ravioli ever) and the atmosphere laid back and soothing. Every one should hang out in this area at least once on a trip to Venice. The restaurant itself was lauded in the Slow Food Osteria in 2004 and seriously was some of the best monkfish I’ve tasted….plus, I discovered another superb wine: IMG_1608

3)  So, of course, another highlight was finding one of the best wine’s I’ve discovered in the past two years: Amarone.

Amarone della Valpolicella Classico wines are rich, red amarone wines from the traditional classico viticultural zone of Valpolicella in Veneto, north-eastern Italy.One of Veneto’s most famous and prestigious wines, Amarone della Valpolicella has played a vital part in boosting the region’s status in the wine world. One of Veneto’s most famous and prestigious wines, Amarone della Valpolicella has played a vital part in boosting the region’s status in the wine world. Those examples from the classico vineyards around Fumane, Marano, Negara and Sant’Ambroglio are considered the finest, and rank among the top wines in Italy One of Veneto’s most famous and prestigious wines, Amarone della Valpolicella has played a vital part in boosting the region’s status in the wine world. Those examples from the classico vineyards around Fumane, Marano, Negara and Sant’Ambroglio are considered the finest, and rank among the top wines in Italy

http://palazzoducale.visitmuve.it/en/home/

4) A guided private tour of the Doge’s Palace. IMG_1659

Originally erected in the 11th century, Venice’s very well designed political system intrigued me. Not only was the elected nobleman (the Doge) decided upon in a pope-like process, but he was surrounded by multiple checks and balances that made the system very democratic. Members of the city could only accuse others of crimes with written witnesses, and then leave the charge in a mail slot called the Lion’s Share. A team of three members of the council (there were 12 in total) read the charges and decided together how to respond. Every week, more than 1000 noblemen would gather and discuss.

The building itself, and our lovely tour guide Monica, impressed us. My favorite was the Giant’s Staircase: Sanaovino erected two colossal statues of Mars and Neptune, representing power by land and sea. History IS art, at least it is when you are in Venice.

The weekend ramblings reminded me of something that is elemental about my nature: I am happiest when learning, exploring, interacting with ideas grounded in physical expressions. Lovely and Alive. IMG_1586

5) My morning “jogs”—-if you can call tiptoeting on ice and hopping over bridges and dodging down alleyways, “jogging”. But I did, both mornings, and the light and quietness externally matched my internal state of mind. Happy to be moving. Content to explore. Satisfied to be present. I receive more energy on these forays than I expend. I contribute more than I consume. Grace and works giving me rest, granting me growth.

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One thought on “The HIgh Five of Venice, Carnevale

  1. I must admit I’ve successfully fleed from the Carneval this year … (My husband lives in Cologne, but we spent the weekend and the first half of the last week in Heidelberg.) Carneval in Venice must be different, it really looks like a *cultural* experience! :D I’ve been to Venice in April last year, and I very well remember the easiness to get lost. Although equipped with a map, my friend and I spent hours straying around all those tiny alleys without a clue. :D

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