Celebrating New Year in Venice

As I mentioned in a previous post, this year I celebrated New Year in Venice, Italy. It’s the first time I’ve celebrated New Year abroad, but it definitely won’t be the last – it was fantastic.

Venice New Year Celebration 1

The Venetians have a huge celebration in St Mark’s Square, presented by the Mayor of the city and sponsored by Versace and the iconic Bellini (a wonderful concoction of white peach juice and Prosecco) – they even gave it away for free. The build-up is accompanied by live music (this year: The Venice White Band and Chiara Luppi), the aforementioned free toast with Bellini, and a huge projected countdown. After midnight, there were fireworks set in St Mark’s Basin, and after that a DJ. The city’s English tourism website promises an even bigger spectacle to welcome 2014.

Venice New Year Celebration 2

Unfortunately, the pickpockets were out in force, and the huge crowd / small walkways out of St Mark’s Square only inflated the problem – so if you go next year, I’d recommend taking as little with you as you can get away with. Most hotels have safety deposit boxes, and they are well worth using.

Regardless, the atmosphere of the celebration was fantastic – with thousands of people from countries all over the world in attendance (New Years Eve is one of the Venetian hotels busiest days). The final countdown was incredible – you can watch a video here. I’ve also uploaded my own video (blurry and shaky in places). I can’t remember the last time I felt as much anticipation in the build up to an event, especially New Year.

New Year in Venice is also accompanied by a theme, normally the same as the Carnival theme of the past year. To welcome 2013, the theme was white – described by the Venice tourism website:

Winter wears a mask, and Carnival is dressed up in white: in the occasion of the magic night that welcomes the year 2013, traditions reverse their roles. The high spirit of the carnival (a “winter carnival”, according to the calendar) spread to the New Year’s Eve and force everyone to get masked.The Winter Festival of the New Year’s Eve become “All White”, like the big dance music parties all over the world, like the parties in Bahia beach where the new year is welcomed with flower tributes to the sea and to Yemanjà goddess.

And as midnight struck, everyone removed their masks and threw them in the air. It was awesome.

Venice New Year 3

Hotel Minerva & Nettuto – Venice, Italy

For my first ever trip to Venice, I booked two hotels – one for each half of the trip. The first of the hotels was Hotel Minerva & Nettuto, and after a day I cancelled the second – we liked it too much.

Location

Hotel Minerva & Nettuto is located on the closest thing to a main street that Venice has – on the route between Santa Lucia Train Station and the Rialto bridge. It is within two minutes walk from the train station and water taxi stops, and about five minutes from the main bus terminal – where buses from the airport drop off. After watching tourists struggling to haul their cases over uneven cobbled streets more than a mile from the terminals, we decided that the location was definitely a good thing (another contributory factor to our cancelling the second hotel). It did however mean that St Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge were a good 20 minute walk away, although this wasn’t a problem for us.

Within two minutes of the hotel there are a number of eating establishments catering to whatever you need – from a sit-down meal to a slice of pizza and a crêpe to take away. The hotel is actually built on top of a restaurant (although for the life of me I can’t remember its name) which serves a great Caprese salad.

Room

min_nettuto_bed

I didn’t get as many pictures of the room as I could have, but it was of a reasonable size and included a wardrobe, sink, mirror and safe. The bed was comfortable, although the heating was on constantly (you wouldn’t think it could be too hot in the winter, eh?) so we left the window open most of the time.

The windows do a great job of blocking out the sound, and also have shutters – creating the perfect space to cool drinks:

min_nettuto_fridge

Our bed was made for us every day, and we had fresh towels and toiletries. Not bad for €50 a night.

Staff

The staff made our stay – they have three people on the reception (morning, afternoon and evening) and they were all very friendly and helpful. The afternoon lady also helped me learn to say our room number (26) in Italian – and I am really bad with languages, so asked in French as often as Italian.

Facilities

The room we booked in the Hotel Minerva & Nettuto was with a shared bathroom- there are rooms with en suites available, but they cost more. The shared facilities, however, were fantastic. The toilets were pretty bog standard, but the shower was large and spacious, and there were enough that there was never a queue.

It is worth noting that WiFi is not free (you pay by usage though, so you can buy three hours and make it last all week) but it is fairly inexpensive and covers all of the rooms.

Overall

Alice and I really enjoyed our stay at the Hotel Minerva & Nettuto, and both thoroughly recommend it to anyone heading to Venice on holiday. You can see more about the hotel here, including booking information and up-to-date prices.

Buon Anno!

Happy New Year from Venice, Italy.

This is the first of I hope many new years celebrated abroad. As the year comes to a close, I think its a good time to look back on the successes and failures of the last year, and what I hope 2013 will bring.

Places Visited – This year I visited France, The Netherlands, Ireland and Italy. Perhaps not as many as I’d like, but my time (and funds!) have been constrained by University. As I graduate this year, I hope I’ll have more time to go exploring.

Getting Away - I started Getting Away this year, and have enjoyed a remarkable amount of traffic for a new blog (my record so far is 200 visitors in one day). I’d like to treble that over the next year. I’d also like to start posting more photographs – perhaps one a week.

Guide – I’d like to launch the Getting Away Guide this year, summarising a location with a combination of my experience with some of the best blog posts I’ve encountered, and perhaps some bits and bobs from the sister site to this one, Trip Tricks.

So, I think that covers it. All that remains is to wish you all a great new year, and to start writing my posts about Italy for when I get home!