Updated: Jan 23, 2020
1. Everyone can wear a costume for weeks
2. The food is delicious
3. They magically absorb art and history
4. The fun is appropriate for children (not X-rated like some other Mardi Gras celebrations)
5. It's a unique way to build memories as a family
Most Americans might not think of taking their kids to Carnival in Venice, but when we saw children from around the world having the times of their lives, we regretted not having thought of it when our kids were little. Just think about it - it's like Halloween, but it goes on for weeks and everyone is dressed up. There is no trick or treating, but there are wonderful things to eat all day long including the signature carnival cookies covered with multicolored sprinkles. (Check out www.academiabarilla.com for their easy to follow recipe). Delicious pizzas and authentic Venetian pastries are served at every other shop window throughout the city. And best of all - everyone is in a nonstop good mood!
The rides on the vaporettos (the public water buses) feel like an amusement park attraction every day. At night, they feel like long mysterious rides on the "Pirates of the Caribbean" boats at Disney World. The photo below was taken just before going under the Rialto Bridge one evening. That could be a perfect moment to talk about Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice" and all the implications for our modern era since lots of the action took place in this exact same location.
Rides on the vaporettos are very economical if you purchase an unlimited rides ticket before arriving in Venice (otherwise an individual ticket, no matter how short the ride, costs 6 1/2 euros). Just go to www.veneziaunica.it to explore the ticket options. The longer you stay, the cheaper your individual rides become. If you are lucky, you might find yourself in one of the prime seats at the front of an almost empty boat. Whenever we get a good seat, we like to stay on board and do the "circle" tour of the Grand Canal and the outer islands of Burano and Murano with a stop at the famous Lido. You can really feel like one of Venice's medieval Doges (rulers) when you have the boat almost all to yourself for hours and it happens quite often!