5 things to do in Venice in winter
Here’s my suggestion of 5 things to do in Venice in winter. And not a word about churches, museums or galleries.
This week The Telegraph published an article headlined ‘Venice attractions: what to see and do in winter’. Suggestions included two art exhibitions, an opera, the Doge Palace and a couple of other museums on St Mark’s Square. Not the most ingenious or unusual choices.
The lack of imagination provoked me to make my own list of what I would do, if I had the luck of spending one of the next weeks in Venice. So here’s my top 5. Totally devoid of art galleries, museums, churches and Harry’s Bar.
1 Chew fog
Venice is famous for the damp mist that regularly descends over the city to muffle sounds, soften edges, bleed colours and wrap the ancient palaces in an extra layer of mystery. The effect is remarkable and perfect for getting lost in the blur among narrow canals and twisted bridges, while the convergence of sky and sea wipes out you own reflection for at while. You can read more about Italian writers and the fog metaphor here.
2 Attend cooking classes
The Rialto Market may be a tourist trap, but I wouldn’t mind going there with a competent Venetian cook to shop for local produce to make baccala mantecato or Fritelle veneziane. According to Sydney Morning Herald, cooking classes are the new black in the tourist industry, and ordinary housewives, professional restaurants and aristocrats are willing to let you in on their kitchen secrets and traditions.
3 See how to build a gondola
Some time ago I saw a fascinating television documentary about the art of building gondolas. I was particularly impressed by the lopsided, asymmetric keel that enables the boat to be rowed by a standing oarsman with a single oar without tipping. Word has it, that some guides can still arrange private tours of a gondola boatyard. But you can also study the craft and techniques from a distance, if you go to Rio San Trovaso near the Giudecca Canal, where there’s a ‘squero’ workshop across the water.
4 Make a mask
After learning to cook and carve wooden boats, I’d take a closer look at the famous Venetian mask-making. Some of the traditional mascareri offer 2-4 hour workshops, where you are given an introduction to mask history, follow the process, and end up decorating your own mask. Could be fun.
5 Go lion hunting
Finally I’d go lion hunting in the city. Lions are the symbol of Venice, and they can be found as statues, on buildings or carved into wall panels throughout the city. It is interesting to study lions in so many different postures and symbolic contexts. And best of all: they are toothless, domesticated and house trained, and they’ll even stand still when you try to shoot them with your camera.
How would you spend a winter day in Venice?
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