Carnival in Venice. I’m here! I still have no exact knowledge of the time. Right now, I only know that it’s night because it’s dark outside. Three plane rides later and crossing at least five time zones on little sleep, somehow I still managed to wake up early enough to get out and about as the kids were going to school this morning.
“Get to St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge early in the morning. That’s when many of the costumed Carnevale-goers will be out for photos." That’s what a few people told me and what I did. Actually, because the clock on the TV in my apartment is one-hour fast, I arrived in the square earlier than planned, around 7:30am. I and a group of maybe 20 others had the costumed posers and Saint Mark’s square all to ourselves. Well almost, there were hundreds of pigeons to annoy keep us company.
After some photos, I needed to warm up. My fingers were blue. Sometimes my legs felt as though they were frozen, too, and wouldn't move. It’s not snowing, but the wind is blowing through Venice’s campos faster than those pigeons will swarm on the smallest dropped crumb.
Breakfast was a cioccolata calda at Il Café on Campo Francesco Morosini. Yes, that same hot chocolate that inspired this Italian hot chocolate recipe. Later some fritelle from Pasticceria Ballarin. Fritelle seemed to be the breakfast of choice for everyone. I’ve found 3 varieties. The traditional Fritella Veneziana with raisins and pine nuts and rolled in granulated sugar. There are also fritelle alla crema (with pastry cream) and fritelle alla zabaglione (with Sabayon). If the sugar high from the hot chocolate wasn’t enough, the fritelle (one traditional and one with crema) certainly gave me the energy to brave the cold again. My preference, so far, is the one filled with pastry cream. I’ll do more testing tomorrow, and am hoping to find more varieties, say a chocolate pastry cream filled one.
Later in the day, I went back to Saint Mark’s. This time the piazza had many more photographers, ranging in expertise from those using their phones to professional photographers with foot-long lenses. The professionals even went so far as to give posing commands to those in costume. It was very much like some crazy photo shoot. With each new costume that arrived on the stage that was St. Mark’s Square, a group of camera-clad fools people (me included) swarmed around them and started clicking. Then another new costume would appear and the group with cameras would race from one to the next. George Clooney might even go unnoticed by papparzzi in favor of an even more extravagent costume.
I had to laugh, and agree, when I heard one Italian walking through the square, call it pazzesco (crazy). In any case, after 300 hundred photos (yes, it’s only my first day here), I’m pretty happy with all of the photos I have. Fried treats, thick hot chocolate and some awesome photos, yep, quite a nice welcome to Carnevale a Venezia!
I’ve shared a few of my favorite photos with you today. At the end of Carnevale, I’ll post a slideshow with all of them.