Sandro and I happened through Piazza San Marco Tuesday afternoon and, without planning on it, came upon what appeared to be the closing ceremonies of Carnevale. Or, at least, the end of the daily costume competitions that had been going on on the big stage since Carnevale's beginning. The official conclusion to the festivities would be marked by La Vogata del Silenzio (or The Silent Row) later that night--which, choosing sleep over spectacle, we missed this year.
The Piazza was packed, and as I was holding Sandro in my arms so that he could see above the crowd, I managed to take only a single photograph, which I post (much cropped) above. In it is one of my favorite costumes of Carnevale, but I can't tell you a thing about it.
Here are a few of my other favorite things from Carnevale...
The hands-on workshops (above) of this year's 4th Annual Carnevale Internazionale dei Ragazzi, put on by La Biennale di Venezia in their main exhibition space in I Giardini Pubblici, were once again, day in and day out, the single liveliest and most interesting place to be for kids and their parents. And, as you can see below, the live performances--also free--were also worth a look.
|French mime Jo Bulitt performs with the Ensemble L'Arsenale
|Sandro discovers what hard work gallantry can be while skating in Camp San Polo
Le Giostre, or the little carnival that also goes up in December each year on Riva dei Sette Martiri near Via Garibaldi, is also not officially part of Carnevale, but as it also closes with Carnevale I include it here as well. Older Venetians remember when it used to be on Riva degli Schiavoni, a short distance from Piazza San Marco, and I wonder if tourists used to frequent it back then, because they almost never seem to do so now. Of course, 50 years ago there existed a long off-season in Venice, so the carnival even then, and even in such proximity to the tourist center of the city, may well have been locals only.
In any case, it's almost exclusively locals now; I've yet to hear anything other than Italian spoken there, and the kids and parents I see there are the same ones I see on Via Garibaldi and in Sant' Elena.
In sharp contrast to the free educational activities at the Biennale, a single round of head-on collisions for your kid on the bumper cars will set you back 2 euro. But, then, as your child will almost certainly find him- or herself in the thick of locals, the ride will probably be educational anyway. Trash-talking on any of the rides that are vaguely competitive--such as the bumper cars or the "Baby Moto"--is quite common, even among kindergarteners. Last night, for example, Sandro--who has only just stopped taunting others on such rides by calling them "piccolino/a" (little one) or "bebe"--was treated to a steady stream of adult-level curses by a neighborhood boy who was no more then seven.
Considering Venetians have a certain reputation for their foul language, it would be hard to find a more "authentic" Venetian experience for your child than that.