Last night Venice enjoyed something that may be perfectly normal in other parts of Italy while here, it’s not something you get to see so very often :-). Already from mid-November, you find the “ocio che nevega” brochures available at the Town Hall. It means attention – it’s snowing, and that’s what finally happened last night. After all, there had been no snow since 27 December 2014 !!
You know when it starts snowing and you see the first snow flakes, you can’t take it for granted that it will last long. People will rush out and take pictures of the first snow flakes dancing in the humid air. This time, the snow cover didn’t last long but in the morning you could still see white traces all over town.
Snow fall makes it more difficult to walk due to the uneven cobbled streets in town. Salt is used to melt the slippery icy cover – le lastre di ghiaccio, but this may take a least an hour.
In the last few years, we’ve come to expect snow every third year in a row while in the 19th century, especially during the Austrian occupation of Venice and also in the early 20th century, the climate must have been harsher and there were longer spells of snow. You may have seen this video of La Laguna ghiacciata the frozen Lagoon in 1920.
Below is my favorite picture of the night of 13 January showing the fresh snow against the dark night.
Before or even during snow fall, you can expect acqua alta too, and that’s what happened this morning and also in the morning of 13 January.
So even if the weather conditions may be somewhat harsher, perhaps it’s really worth traveling to Venice in January? In particular, if you love food and exhibitions, having Venice to yourselves, this would be a good choice, so we will give you five reasons to enjoy Venice in winter, when she is half asleep …
Soul Food Time. January is the high season of soul food. Soul food means warm and velvety soups in Venice. And here’s our warm soup served by my friends at Ristorante Monaco e Gran Canal. This is pasta e fasioi, a great dish using fagioli di Lamon – a brownish bean variety which has always been a staple food here in the Veneto. There’s also short pasta in it and the soup comes flavored with grated parmesan, olive oil and lots of pepper. A treat in the cold weather, below you can see the view we had and you can tell from the colors that it must have been very cold and humid outside.
Another staple food is the winter cakes and winter desserts, for example, the zaleti – sweet breads seasoned with raisins, and marrons glacès. Rosa Salva has a wonderful selection right now :-)
I Saldi. Sales are another good reason to be in Venice right now. We get text messages from our friends working at the fashion stores in Venice that sales weeks have started, so I can never miss it. Officially, it started on 5 January this year, and there’s more to come ..
Cioccolata calda. We could never stand the long cold nights of January without hot chocolate. You know our dense variety whichoften comes flavored with liquors or spices. Even if you enter a pastry store in the morning, you can sometimes have it to yourselves. Like I was lucky to have Pasticceria al Ponte del Lovo all to myself (for five minutes :-) ).
Le fritole. Officially, you can taste these sweet Carnival favorites from 7 January in the Venetian pastry stores, but of course, also on Epiphany Day. These days you can see how the vetrine (storefronts) are slowly being prepped up for Carnival. It’s a slow beginning while Venice is taking a collective rest. As of now, she’s still dreaming the New Year and preparing everything to shine back-stage.
Le Mostre – Exhibitions. And the Museums, of course. Plenty of time and room to enjoy them all … plus the cafetteria with a view of Piazza San Marco at Museo Correr. If you are interested in discovering the commercial relations between Venice and Britain, Non Solo Spezie was an interesting exhibition to visit at the Biblioteca Marciana.
Yet there are a few basic rules for traveling to Venice in winter and stay healthy, for now is also the season of influenza. Soon we’ll share a few warming dishes, special food and tricks from Venice to stay warm and enjoy our town in the cold season !