Sunday, February 28, 2010

Venice - New Year's Eve snowflakes and fireworks

I can't imagine any other place I would rather be than in Venice on New Year's Eve. For me, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The evening was icy cold, the air crisp and the atmosphere electric as we made our way from our hotel to meet our Swedish friends who had an apartment at Residenzia Castello about three 'calles' away from where we were staying. To reach their apartment you had to climb two very steep flights of stairs but it was worth it as we were greeted with familiar smiles and cold Bellinis in hand. We threw back a Bellini or two to kick start our revelry and then made our way to the restaurant Planet tucked in a narrow 'calle' behind St Mark's Square. The service was excellent; the food well priced. And, as it was NYE, we were treated to a traditional Venetian feast...for a set price of 80 euro per person which included continuous glasses of house wine and a bottle of sparkling red to take out onto the square for our midnight toast. The meals were alternate drop - a continous bounty of plated food. To give you example, this is what my selection consisted of: Hors D'Oeuvre - a plate of anchovies fried, a plate of buffalo's mozzarella & tomatoes, and a plate of assorted vegetables. First courses (that's right courses!) - spaghetti with clams, tagliatelle with artichokes, pasta with bolognese meat sauce, bigoli with sausages & red chicory, spaghetti with lupara sauce (tomatoes, ham, bacon, olives) and lasagna with bolognese meat sauce. Second courses (yes, there's more!) - a slice of beef grilled with rucola & parmesan, and veal escalope in white wine with salad. Dessert - your choice of either apple strudel (not so Venetian), cream pudding with wild berries (not sure about that one either) and chocolate mousse (more French than Italian perhaps). I didn't get as far as the dessert offer but I'm sure it was good...everyone else seemed be scoffing theirs down without any hesitation whatsoever.

Just before midnight we gathered our coats, scarves and hats, and layered up in preparation for the outside winter clime. Leaving the snug restaurant and ruddied faces of fellow diners, with arms linked and full of cheer (in more ways than one) we may our way to St Mark's Squae. We were amongst the thick of it with bands pumping out the coolest sounds. Then suddenly, the music stopped and a cacophony of voices roared the official countdown to midnight. As the hoardes screamed HappyNew Year, fireworks pierced the darkness of night etching rainbows of colour across the laguna. But for me the grand finale felt as if it was orchestrated by God especially for us - the skies above softly dusted us with snowflakes. Welcome to the City of Angels.

New Year's Day was a winter wonderland. The gondolas were ice-covered, the Piazza and Piazzetta San Marco (the part of the Piazza between the Doge's Palace and Biblioteca Marciana open to the lagoon at the mouth of the Grand Canal was shrouded in a veil of mist.

No comments: