The Lagoon in Ice Blue: This is January in Venice

Pearl white and ice blue is perlaceo e blu ghiaccio in Italian. Don’t think that January in Venice is just sad, or drab. It is just a calm month though, a restful period interrupted by roughly two weeks, which comprise Carnival preparations and celebrations – by the way, Carnival starts on 16 February in 2019, and will last through 5 March.

So, this is the calm before the storm. Caigo – intense fog may cover the city (it happened last Wednesday), and acqua alta rules apply again (new moon means high tides. Read more about Venice and the Moon here).

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last updated: 10 January 2019

In this post, we won’t be talking about the dark, foggy sides of January, but of all of them, and in particular, the bright ones. Here are my ten personal impressions of January in Venice:

#1 Colors, colors, colors – a big topic on our blog. Enjoy a brilliant pearl white & ice-blue clad Lagoon, a strange, pale, soft light similar to to an eternal, shimmering twilight. Have you ever seen Venice shrouded in this matte, opaque winter hues, which are even brighter when the sun rays are playing on the water surface?

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#2 Our winter flowers are pale white and rose-hued too. Hellebores are our signature blossoms in January (elleboro). From mid-December, they are sold at the flower stores in town, but also at the Rialto Market. Did you know that in the front part of the Fish Market Building, opening up upon the Grand Canal, a flower market has found its home?

#3 Even though the Christmas tree was removed on 7 January from the Piazza, Venetians keep their stelle di Natale plants !!! My grandmother  has become an expert in cultivating them, and they thrive throughout the year. They “live” on a quiet window sill where they can soak up the early morning sun all year long. This means that, yes, we ave an ever-growing collection of stelle di Natale plants :-)

#4 Acqua alta is one of the reasons why January can feel uncomfortable, but then it lasts for a few hours while returning twice a day during winter (once a day during summer, by the way). Usually, the first acqua alta of the year co-incides with the New Moon. You can read more about the background of high tides in town, and what to expect, in this article on the blog.


#5 Food is delicious in January! So many Christmas cookies still around while new zaléti are being baked for Carnival, and of course, le fritole – frittelles, which come in all shapes and flavors! We also get them in rose hues, flavored with Alchermes liquor.

#6 Delicious winter fruit, salads, vegetables. All we need for a late-winter detox menu, helping to strengthen the immune system during the cold months. 

#7 Windows and counters at pastry stores come decorated with marzipan pralines, alchermes-flavored zaleti cookies, or chocolate truffles, recalling the soft hues of winter outside. If you ask me, Venetian pastry stores are practicing for Valentine’s Day :-)

#8 Winter sales invite you to take a walk around the shops in town.

#9 Tea and spices confer energy and health in the icy month of the year. We use yellow and red spices to balance out energy, based on the wisdom of the Venetian color wheel (more in our Spice Atelier, La Spezeria, soon)

#10 Take your time, we’re still hibernating in Venice. It’s been a long year, and the quiet times are getting shorter every year, or at least that’s what I’m feeling.

We enjoy the quiet month when we have the Grandi Caffé  for ourselves. Imagine drinking your cappuccino at Caffé Florian on a Monday morning, and being the only guest (at least for ten minutes)..

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2 Comments

  1. Vanessa wrote:

    Another wonderful post. You make even the coldest time in Venezia sound so lovely. I wonder, are hellebore also used for poison? I seem to recall reading something along those lines, but perhaps I’m wrong?

    Posted 1.10.19 Reply
    • Iris wrote:

      Grazie Vanessa, so glad you liked it!! Hellebore are very poisonous, and one must be careful with animals as well. These flowers take on the nice name of Christmas rose, but are for decoration only.

      Posted 1.10.19 Reply

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