Have you been to Carnival in Venice? If you had to choose the quintessential Venetian experience it wouldn’t be a gondola ride or a glass blowing demonstration, it would be Carnevale.
In the 17th and 18th centuries Venice
was at its greatest. It was the merchant trade capital of the world and as such
was dripping in money, grandeur and excess. What better way to show that off
than with a weeks and sometimes months long fancy dress party?
Venice Carnival actually dates back to as early as 1162, but it was during the Baroque period in the 17th century that it really took off as a hedonistic expression of wealth and frivolity. Everyone would get dressed up, rich and poor (or maybe rich and non-rich is more correct) alike, don masks and be a part of the never-ending party.
Carnevale gave people the chance to live excessively until Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday) after which the 40 days of Lent (and deprivation) began.
In an interesting play on numbers the church snuffed out the
celebrations in 1797, and they all but disappeared until 1979 when the
government decided to use carnival to help bring back interest in the history
and culture of Venice. During the interim the church forbade the use of masks.
In the 19th century the carnival started reappearing, but only for
short periods and for private events.
Now Venice’s carnival has become a huge international festival drawing people from all over the world.
Several years ago when I was teaching a pro makeup artistry
program I had a student who had been to Carnival in Venice. She loved it so
much that she decided to learn how to do makeup and go back each year, paying
her way by doing makeup for carnival. She ended up doing it for years! She
would work for book days on end getting ladies ready for the parties and balls.
I was always so proud of her but also a little envious (although in a nice way). I wished I could do it too, but I had a young child at home and at that time in my life it wouldn’t have worked.
5 Reasons why (at least once in your life) you should go to carnival in Venice
1. It’s The Original
This is the original carnival and nobody does it quite like Venice. With the backdrop of this exquisitely beautiful city, the baroque architecture, the canals, the little bridges everywhere and the midnight mist rolling in off the lagoon there is no place better in the world to celebrate carnival, and in full costume no less!
Not only do you get to wear a mask, but everyone else does too! You can be anyone you want to be when you have a mask hiding your identity. Not many cities have traditions so glamorous and alluring. Although it is quite possibly just Bob from accounting, behind that mask the man you are dancing with in the street or at a ball could be a prince. A little mystery adds no end of spice to life!
3. You get To Wear A Costume
The costumes are spectacular. We don’t have anything like this at home. Not only do you get to dress up in costume but everybody else does too. The streets (calle) and bridges and campos are full of people in baroque costumes, gondolas glide across the canals carrying elaborated gowned and masked women, men in capes and hats with masks hiding their faces. Night after night this goes on and it is incredible.
If you are going to visit Venice, why not come when Venetians are celebrating the biggest party of the year? You will never, ever forget the experience. The amount of time, effort and money that venetians put into their costumes make this so much more than just a fancy dress party.
5. See Venice As It Used To Be
If you have been to Venice during the high tourist summer
months then you have no doubt witnessed the horror of the endless cruise ships.
They not only block the view as they go by, but vomit off thousands of people
at a time. Cruise passengers choke up the walkways, making the bridges so
congested they are hard to pass over. They take up all the space and use up all
the oxygen. Unless you know where to go to escape them you lose sight of Venice
itself. Try walking through St Mark’s Square or across the Rialto Bridge when a
cruise ship is in and you will know what I mean.
Between 470 and 529 cruise ships come to Venice each year,
each carrying thousands of passengers. When multiple ships are docked the
volume of tourists is just overwhelming.
But during Carnival they are fewer and further between. Not only do you get to really see Venice and be able to walk around freely, but everyone is in costume! It is magnificent.
Venice is the most unique city on earth. Why not visit during its most unique celebration?
Although the most famous, Venice is not the only place in Italy to celebrate Carnevale. Across the country there are several festivals leading up to the 40 days of Lent, each special in its own way. I have made a PDF of my top 5 Festivals In February. It not only tells you about each one but also gives you the dates they happen.
Have you ever noticed how business travelers and people who fly frequently seem to move through airports easily, not even slightly flustered, keeping their cool and looking chic, while you are juggling your carry-on, your handbag, your boarding pass, your I.D and your coat, trying to remember if there are liquids in your bag, hoping you didn’t just drop your iPhone, and getting totally stressed out?
There is an art to air travel. Simple tricks that make everything work seamlessly, get you early boarding and upgrades, make navigating airports easy and have you arriving to your destination looking cool, calm and collected. Business travelers know these tricks. People who fly often know these tricks. And now you are going to know them too!
10 Travel Tricks Every Business Traveler Knows
1. Choose One Airline and Stick With It
Business travelers know whenever possible you should stick with one airline.
Sometimes you can save a few dollars by flying with a cheapie airline or by using a competitor airline but often its just not worth it
Sticking with one airline is beneficial not only for accumulating free flights but also for getting upgrades. Loyal customers tend to get more opportunity to board early and to be upgraded to better seats, and are less likely to be kicked off the flight if it is oversold. Airlines want to build loyalty (hence the frequent flier programs) and understand there is value in taking care of good repeat customers. Also there is a huge benefit to you as a traveler already being familiar with the airline and the way they operate.
2. Choose Your Seat When You Make Your Booking
Business travelers and frequent flyers seldom get stuck in the middle seat.
One of the ways that airlines are making more money is by charging you to choose your seat and staggering the costs depending where on the plane that seat is. You seldom find half empty flights anymore, and most flights are full, even the red eye flights that used to be mostly empty in the good old days. You can safely assume that if you don’t choose your seat ahead of time you will in fact get the dreaded middle seat and be squashed in between two overweight, itchy passengers!
For a short flight it doesn’t matter so much, but for a long
flight or for an international flight this can be very important.
Use an app like Seat Guru and evaluate the pros and cons of a seat before committing to it. For example avoid being next to the toilets, look to see if that seat has limited recline or no recline, look to see if the seat has a shorter pitch than others and also see if there is an entertainment system under the seat in front of you taking up both your leg space and your space to put your extra bag. I have been saved countless times by using the Seat Guru app.
Business travelers don’t wait til they get to the airport to check in.
Most airlines will offer you the opportunity to check in online 24 hours prior to your flight. Even if you are checking bags always take this option. Apart from it being a time saver, especially if the ticketing area at the airport is busy, it lowers the chance that you will be kicked off your flight if the flight is oversold.
With most airlines this enables you to either choose your seat or at least get a better seat assignment. Your boarding pass can either be printed ahead of time or even sent to your phone. Every step you take to streamline the travel process is worthwhile.
4. Be Ready For TSA Security Checks
Business travelers sail through the TSA security check points quickly and effortlessly.
This is huge. You can tell who are the business travelers and frequent travelers just by watching them move through the TSA check points at the airport. And you can learn a lot from them too.
The travel pros are ready for the security X-Ray machines. Jewelry and belts are removed before getting to the conveyor belt, often not put on in the first place until they have cleared the screening point. Keys and coins are removed from pockets and either stored inside their bag or put into a small tray. They know that if they don’t have TSA Pre Check they will have to remove their shoes, so they wear shoes that are easy to get on and off.
Their cabin baggage is organized, with laptops and properly sized, properly packaged liquids at the top, easy to access and put in the trays. Frequent travelers don’t hold up the line and don’t waste time fossicking around in their bags to find the items that set off the x-rays machines. Surplus clothing – coats, hats and scarves are already removed and folded. They have their boarding pass and ID in hand, they are ready.
Frequent travelers will scan the lines at TSA and avoid the ones filled with children and disorganized people. Why get stuck behind someone who is taking up too much space and time?
They know to go left – most people are right handed and will instinctively veer to the security lines to the right. The lanes to the left typically move more quickly and have both fewer people and fewer disorganized people.
By being prepared you can expedite the security process, avoiding some extra stress in the process as well as lessening the likelihood of losing personal items in the process.
5. They Board ASAP
Business travelers don’t waste time hanging around the gate – they board their flights as quickly as possible.
Although it means a few more minute on the plane vs standing at the terminal gate (and who wants to do that anyway?) frequent travelers know to board their flight asap. Have you ever noticed that first class passengers are seated and comfortable with their bags stored in the overhead bin before anyone else is allowed to board?
The first reason to board immediately is to get your share of
valuable overhead bin space before it’s gone. Simple and small things such as
being able to fold your coat and put it away neatly (rather than having to hold
in throughout the flight or have it crushed while you try to squish it in
around other travelers rollaway bags) can make all the difference in any
flight, be it a short or a long one.
It is much easier to keep your inflight belongings organized when you have had time to board your plane comfortably. Trying to organize your book or laptop, your phone, your earphones, your sweater or scarf, your water and anything else you need out with you, while trying to climb over other passengers and trying to find overhead bin space is not only really difficult but also raises your chance of losing items. You seldom see business travelers or frequent fliers losing their travel items – they board early and stay organized. Which makes them both look and feel calm.
Business travelers know that bringing unnecessary valuables
when you travel is plain stupid. The streamline whatever jewelry they are bringing
and use the hotel safe to store anything surplus they do have to bring.
They also know that all laptops/medication/jewelry/cameras/valuables have to go on the plane in their carry-on luggage and never in their checked bags. If it has value, never, ever check it.
7. System Boosting
Frequent long distance flyers know that getting sick during a flight can ruin the best business meetings and the best vacations.
Face it, airplanes are full of germs. Not only are all the surfaces dirty – they are not chloroxed down in between flights, but they are also covered in whatever the previous passengers have been sneezing and coughing up, and you don’t even want to know what else!
On top of that along with everyone else you are breathing in recirculated air that is not fresh or clean. Add to that your defenses being down due to lack of sleep and change in routine and you have a recipe for catching every bug that is floating around.
Before you travel build your personal defense system with
extra vitamins. Instead of indulging in airport food, which is typically
starchy, fatty, high in sodium and relatively bad for you, pack healthy
snacks. The same applies to airplane
food, which is not known for its health benefits.
Business travelers typically don’t drink endless sodas or alcoholic drinks during their flights either. Both break down your body’s defenses and make you more vulnerable to getting sick while traveling.
Business travelers and people who fly a lot know how important it is to stave off jet lag and travel fatigue, or at least minimize it.
Sometimes you just cannot get away from jet lag, such as when you wake up in Los Angeles and go to bed in Singapore, but you can minimize the effects of it.
The game changers include staying super hydrated before,
during and after your flight, banking some extra sleep in the days leading up
to your flight and by making really good food choices. In the lead up to a big
flight avoid heavy, starchy foods, salty foods and junk foods. Eat lean and
Another great way to help mitigate jet lag and travel fatigue is to get extra exercise in the days leading up to your flight and then getting quality exercise when you land, either from taking a really good, long walk or working out at the hotel gym. Even 20 minutes sweating on a treadmill can help your body to recover by getting the blood pumping and reducing swelling in the feet and ankles.
9. Stick To Your Home Schedule
When moving through different time zones, crossing datelines
or just traveling across country one of the best ways to acclimate your body is
to maintain your home schedule.
If you don’t drink alcohol during the week at home, avoid drinking during the week while away. Try to get the same number of hours sleep per night as you do at home, keep up your exercise routines and watch for the devil that is sugar. It is easy to start indulging in novelty foods while away but remember sugar is at the root of most evils. A body getting excess sugar is more likely to get sick, feel icky, get bloated and have trouble sleeping, as well as many other negative things.
10. Dress The Part.
Business travelers and frequent flyers know that wearing the right clothing to travel in is a must. You can see them deplaning after a 10 hour flight looking chic and stylish instead of completely crumpled.
Simple pieces made in breathable fabrics that you can layer are the key to easy travel.
Most people will bloat a little during the flight as the cabin air pressure changes, so clothing that is too tight or that doesn’t move with you can make a long flight incredibly uncomfortable.
Look for fabrics that don’t crease and that although thin are nice and warm, such as Modal and merino. Airplanes get cold but heavy bulky clothes aren’t fun to fly in.
Choose shoes that are comfortable and that you can wear with socks, and definitely avoid heels! Add a pashmina or large scarf that you can use either to wrap up in or as a blanket if needed.
How would you like to live in Italy for 3 months, for free??
I know I would dearly love to. I found out about this incredible opportunity and unfortunately I can’t take advantage of it. It happens across the time I have my Glam Italia Tours, and on top of that my son starts college in the fall, so I have to be here.
But can you imagine yourself sipping your cappuccino every morning in an ancient piazza, living in a centuries old home, cooking with the locals and spending balmy summer evenings with a glass of wine under the shade of a 500 year old tree and a view to die for?? Not only can it happen, but it can happen FOR FREE!!
Italy’s Shrinking Villages
Italy has a problem. Up and down the country its magical, beautiful little villages are becoming ghost towns. With not enough local work to support the young folk, they are having to move either to the big cities or to other countries in order to make a living. As the older generations head heavenward these picture postcard, gorgeous little towns and villages are being left close to empty.
More than half of Italy’s small towns are likely to be deserted in the next few decades. Approximately 2430 of them are considered to be at risk.
Airbnb Has A Plan
Airbnb has come up with a brilliant plan to stop these idyllic villages from falling into ruin, starting with the revitalization of one darling little town.
They announced this week that they are going to sponsor four people to have an unique opportunity to live in the little town of Grottole for 3 months, experiencing real, authentic Italian life. I die. Can you even imagine???
“Selected candidates will become temporary citizens of the village and will volunteer for a local non-profit organisation called “Wonder Grottole” whose aim is to revitalise the town’s historical centre,” it said in its call for applications.
The Italian Sabbatical – Your New Country Life In Grottole
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and become a temporary citizen of a village in the south of Italy. Immerse yourself in the local culture and discover how to speak, act and cook the Italian way. You will also get to support the local community by hosting an Airbnb Experience. Your goal? To help the local community revitalize the small village of Grottole.
Candidates must be over 18, be available to move to Grottole for 3 months, from June to August 2019, and have a good knowledge of English.
The village’s four newest residents will be announced on March 29, 2019.It says the small village, which is near Matera, the 2019 Capital of Culture, has only 300 inhabitants and more than 600 houses standing empty.
Airbnb paints an idyllic picture of life in the village, promising days beginning with cappuccino and a language lesson before meeting a cast of bee-keeping, olive-oil producing residents.
But while it sounds like a holiday, Airbnb expects the four new “residents” to complete training to become Airbnb Experience Hosts who’ll go on to work for Wonder Grottole.
The chosen four will be expected to completely immerse themselves in the local culture, studying Italian, working in the community garden, and learning to cook traditional recipes, before then passing on their newfound knowledge to the influx of visitors Airbnb Italy is hoping will then descend on the village.
“We have to create a system, or the many Grottoles across Italy will continue to remain hidden gems,” said Matteo Frigerio, Country Manager of Airbnb Italy.
This system, it’s hoped, will breathe new life into the village which is currently heading for extinction.
Where Is Grottole?
This is super exciting. Grottole is in Basilicata, the region that makes up the instep of Italy’s boot. The village is only an hour drive from Matera, one of my favorite towns in the world! (see related posts about Matera here, here and here ). The village is an hour’s drive from the beautiful beaches that make up Basilicata’s Ionian coast. If you love beaches you are also close to another of my favorite parts of Italy, the neighboring region of Puglia, and its magnificent coastlines. (see related post about Puglia). The Amalfi Coast is only a little over 2 1/2 hours drive away, with the town of Salerno giving you fast train access to all of Italy.
“In ten years we’d like to see the village full of people of different cultures perfectly integrated with the local community” said Silvio Donadio, founder of Wonder Grottole.
You can apply to win a 3 month sabbatical here: APPLY HERE