We were scrambling to find affordable accommodation during our trip to Venice for the famed Venetian Carnival. In the end we found a good deal at the 4 star Hotel Giorgione Venice. Located at the convenient end of Canareggio, we had a good experience and even managed to avoid the Carnival crowds (no mean feat I tell you). It’s always good when you feel like you’ve feel like you’d found sanctuary at your hotel.
Different from our usual hotels, the Hotel Giorgione Venice is a converted historical residence which is still decorated in the classically elegant Venetian manor. Think lots of Murano glass, terrazzo floors and heavy traditional furniture. It’s like if your Great-Aunt Agatha had a Venetian home.
Traditional Elegance at the 4 Star Hotel Giorgione Venice Italy
The Hotel Giorgione Venice
The 4 star hotel in Venice is family run. The building began its life as a warehouse to store the sweets made by the Venetian Dolcetti family. In the 19th century, the building was turned into an inn and named after a famous Venetian painter, Giorgione. The hotel stayed in the Dolcetti family through marriage (the wife of the current owner is a Dolcetti). They continue to update and renovate this historic building.
Location in Canareggio
The Hotel Giorgione Venice is in the Canareggio district which is one of the less touristy parts of Venice. The Canareggio district though is huge and stretches for a fair bit away from the popular areas. Luckily, the Hotel Giorgione is at the end of the Canareggio area closest to the Rialto Bridge and St. Marks Square.
The Rialto Bridge is a 5 minute walk. St. Marks Square is a 20 minute walk across 4 bridges (if you don’t get lost, and then all bets are off). There are plenty of signs that point which way to go. I had no problem navigating my way but my husband got lost pretty much every time.
I really enjoyed being out of the main tourist loop for Venice Carnival. I had no idea that a 5 minute walk could make such a difference. The Rialto Bridge is packed pretty much all day and night, except for 6:00 AM. I know this because I had to walk to St. Marks Square to take a photo tour with Mediterranean Photo Tours. The streets were eerily quiet without the buzz of people, and the Rialto even more so.
Can you believe this is what the Rialto bridge looks like empty?
From the hotel, we heard church bells on Sunday morning. I threw open the window and watched nuns walking to church. And, then we went to see the Flight of the Angel at Carnival and my peace was shattered. But it was a wonderful interlude in the room anyway.
The view from our hotel room window down an empty side street.
Our Duplex Room
First of all, the decor of the Hotel Giorgione may not be to your taste. There are lots of antiques and the rooms are swathed in traditional fabrics. The floors are the traditional terrazzo (battuto) which was made famous by Venetian artisans in the 15th century.
We really liked having a duplex room. The master bed was up in a loft area. Downstairs, two single beds were set up for our children. We had plenty of space for all of us. As you would expect, there was lots of Murano lighting all around.
The duplex room is perfect for families.
I don’t mind old-fashioned in the bedroom but I really hate old-fashioned bathrooms. Our bathroom was a weird design of white tiles with mint green grouting and the colours were reversed on the floor (green tiles with white grouting). I found the effect a bit psychedelic and harking back to the 1970’s.
The bathroom was a bit dated and not as posh as the rest of the furnishings.
I know some of the rooms had terraces. I would think it would be great in the summer to have a room with a terrace where you could bask in the quiet and sunshine.\
Speaking of heat, we had to ask to have the heat to our room turned down. Our room was baking hot. The hotel is well-heated and as you know, hot air rises. The downside with having our master bedroom upstairs was that we were sleeping in a sauna. When we left the room, we tried leaving our window open a smidgeon to air it out. In the end, we gave up and just asked the hotel reception to turn off the heating to our room completely.
Amenities and Service
We found the service at the hotel very helpful and excellent. They were able to organise a water taxi for us to the airport, make assorted reservations for us and give us directions when we asked.
Connected to the hotel was the Osteria Enoteca Giorgione where we ate dinner one night. The pasta is made fresh every day and was delicious. My husband said the wine selection was fabulous. I stuck to the famous Venetian Aperol Spritz which technically is an aperitif of prosecco, club soda and Aperol. I did the tourist thing and drank it with my meal too.
Don’t be put off by it’s orange colour, the Aperol Spritz is delicious.
Breakfast is included in the room rate. It was pretty simple and nothing special. My children were sad that the outdoor pool was not open for use.
The WiFi is free and not great. We would occasionally get bursts of WiFi in our room. The best location for WiFi was in the downstairs lobby and people would congregate on the chairs and sofas there.
Photo Gallery of Hotel Giorgione Venice
The quiet location of the Hotel Giorgione belies the fact that it is only a 5 minute walk to the Rialto bridge.
The downstairs lobby area has a lot of little seating areas which are comfortable to relax.
The billiards room was requisitioned by a Carnival costumes atelier.
The courtyard pool would be a welcome respite during the summer heat.
The upstairs bedroom in our duplex was massive.
Stairs lead up to a bedroom loft.
We booked Hotel Giorgione Venice through Jetsetter, a TripAdvisor company which had the best deal on the internet during the Carnival period for this hotel. Alternatively, check out the prices for the hotel on Booking.com or TripAdvisor reviews of Hotel Giorgione. You can also check the TripAdvisor reviews of Hotel Giorgione.
This post contains affiliate links the policy for which may be found on the Disclosure Page.
Having just returned from Venice Carnival 2017, I have mixed feelings about visiting this city during this festival. Many of the carnival outfits and the Venetian masquerade masks were truly beautiful. On the other hand, Venice is busy at the best of times and we found the crowds overwhelming. I do think it is an experience worth doing at least once in your lifetime, so I have put together some tips for making sure you have the best experience at Carnival in Venice.
Tips For Having The Best Experience at Carnival in Venice
The History of the Carnival in Venice
The Venetian Carnival has a long history stretching back to historic times before the Renaissance. It was a months long festival to help Venetians get through the winter months and ended at the beginning of Lent. Back then, Venice was the original Sin City. The Venetian masquerade masks and carnival outfits were useful in hiding identities which lead to a general licentiousness behind the anonymity.
Then, Napoleon conquered the Republic of Venice and ruined the party. Boo. He decided that masks and disguises made his rule difficult. The French (and later Austrians) did away with Carnival.
In 1979, the Republic of Italy decided to restart the Carnival of Venice as a way to revive interest in the history and culture of Venice. In the beginning, Venice Carnival was just for locals. Nowadays, approximately 3 million tourists a year visit for the Carnival of Venice during the festival which lasts a couple of weeks in February.
Tips for Enjoying Venice Carnival
With so many visitors to Venice, the city is more crowded than usual. Here are my tips for enjoying Venice Carnival without feeling you are knee-deep in a tourist scrum.
Where To Go
- If you insist on visiting St. Mark’s Square, earlier in the day and later in the day is the best time. The area is gridlock during the middle of the day.
- Hotels are even more expensive than usual. You are best situated outside the most popular areas. We chose to stay in Canareggio which was only a 15 minute walk to St. Mark’s Square but felt a world away.
To get St. Mark’s Piazza this quiet, you need to arrive at 6:00 AM.
- The tourists seem to all act like lemmings and they congregate around (i) St. Mark’s Square, (ii) the waterfront area by St. Mark’s Piazza and (iii) the Rialto bridge area. Once you leave these main areas, the side streets are remarkable empty and still charming.
- We missed the Flight of the Angel at St. Mark’s Square because we thought we would not need more than an hour to walk the 15 minutes from our hotel to the square. Wrong. The crowds were so thick, the police cordoned of the square. We had a miserable an hour and half being herded through streets until we were able to break away and leave the area.
- In the evening the party scene for the younger non-traditional crowd is by the Arsenale area.
- Plenty of people were dressed up and wandering around Venice in full costume for the day. The outfit hire is for the day. Starting at €250/day, I guess you might as well make full use of the outfit!
- There aren’t that many events for children. The official agenda mentions things like mask-making at the Peggy Guggenheim museum. These events though were sold out and require advance reservations (a fact that unhelpfully was not mentioned in the agenda!).
- We took our children to La Bauta which has a store and a workshop near the Rialto Bridge. At the workshop both adults and children can make masks and learn about Carnival Masks. They loved the experience.
- Make reservations for dinner. There are a lot of day-trippers who come to Venice for Carnival but everyone else needs to eat. Restaurants get full and many have a choice of two seatings – either 7pm or 9pm (the more popular choice). Here’s a complete guide to finding great food in Venice for anytime of the day.
- The Venetian balls are a grand affair with a grand price to match (think hundreds of Euros to attend plus the cost of the outfit/hair/makeup etc). Most of these balls are adult-only affairs.
Cinderella … you shall go to the ball.
- We did find a dance class in the afternoon that would take children but we opted not to do it in the end. My daughter would have loved it but getting my son into a period outfit was just too much trauma to contemplate.
Are you looking at little old moi?
- You can buy cheapish costumes from €10-€25 in the stalls of market traders. Having seen the effort that people go to for their costumes, I would not suggest going to one of the masked balls in a cheap outfit.
- Don’t bring your Halloween outfit unless you are a child. We saw a handful of charming little Batmen and Disney princesses. Some children were dressed in traditional outfits as well. We saw a very grumpy little boy in a multi-coloured pierrot outfit which made me laugh. My son would’ve had the same expression (if I’d even been able to convince him to put on the outfit).
Photo Gallery of Venice Carnival
It looks like Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep.
I’m so sad… so very sad.
Halt! Who goes there?
I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.
Possibly I should have gone with a slightly darker orange.
A lot of men wore this big beaked mask. Not sure if they were compensating?
Wait … is that a landline??!
What does a girl have to do to get a gondola around here?
Memories… all alone in the moonlight …
Good To Know Before You Go
Here’s another article on tips to enjoy Carnival in Venice which also encourages you to venture further away from the city’s most crowded areas. Not only will you enjoy the Venice Carnival more but you will also be acting like a responsible tourist avoiding overcrowding an endangered city.
Venice … where voguing is still popular.
We stayed at Hotel Giorgione in Canareggio which is probably the most local and quietest of the Venetian neighbourhoods. Our hotel was a 5 minute walk to the Rialto and 15 minutes to St. Marks Square. In the past, we have stayed at Hotel Bucintoro which is near the Arsenale section. This hotel would be good if you wanted to go out at night because a lot of night events with DJ’s and concerts for Carnival happen around here. I can’t imagine its the quietest area though. We have also stayed in the Hotel Londra Palace in the past which has a great view of the harbour right near St. Mark’s Square. On the other hand, this area is too busy for us during Carnival.
The official website for Venice Carnival has a lot of information in English. We did our mask making in Venice at the La Bauta store and workshop.
We payed full price for all the goods and services in this article. This article contains affiliate links for which the affiliate policy can be found on our Disclosure Page.
My children have wanted to go to Venice ever since they read and re-read Olivia Goes to Venice by Ian Falconer. In this charming book, Olivia, a precocious little pig with a passport and a passion for life gallivants through Venice with her family. The book not only showed my children the Venetian landmarks but impressed upon them the notion that Venice has got endless gelato on tap. So, of course, the kids really, really wanted to go to Venice because they know all about the delights of gelato. And, when we did get there, we did Venice with children, the Olivia way,
Olivia Goes To Venice by Ian Falconer
Venice is one of our favourite cities in the world and so we were only too happy to oblige with a family trip. In fact, the traditional gift for a first wedding anniversary is paper and, my husband surprised me with a trip to Venice (paper flight tickets to Venice). Then, we had kids, and it was all downhill after that anniversary. No, just kidding. That first anniversary gift was hard to beat.
There is so much people and place watching for kids to see in Venice. The large cruise ships coming into the harbour itself was a delight.
What Did Olivia Do In Venice?
We did all the things that Olivia the pig did – such as take a gondola ride, visit St. Mark’s Square, clamber around bridges, buy souvenirs and eat lots of gelato. We stopped short though of destroying a famous landmark and being chased out of town by a baying mob of angry Venetians (you’ll have to read the book to understand that reference!).
We had to take a Gondola ride naturally. Olivia did it but neither my husband nor I had done it before this trip.
5 Fun Kid-Friendly and Cheap Things To Do in Venice
We found lots of ways to amuse the children in Venice that Olivia may have missed while she was busy scoffing down gelato. We thought we would share with you some money-saving tips on how to soak up the Venetian ambience because Venice is NOT cheap. We splurged on a nice hotel so that it’s easier to explore with the children from the centre. And, gelato, of course. Lots of gelato.
5 money-saving and fun things to do with children when you are visiting Venice, Italy.
- For example, my children really enjoyed the water buses. Not only are they a cheap way to get around Venice, they are also the equivalent of live Venice television. The kids just stood in the front of the water bus and watched Venetian buildings and life pass them by in the canals.
2. Another unexpected (cheap) pleasure was checking out all the different store fronts along the side streets. There were more masks and tourist tat than I thought possible in such a small area and the children enjoyed finding new and different ones. We set up a competition to see who could find the (i) creepiest mask and (ii) silliest souvenir.
The kids’ sleep toys stayed in our hotel room and had a nice view of the Venetian harbour from the window.
Once you are off the main strip, the tourists just dissipate which made letting children explore easier. Many times we were the only ones on a particular back street and I had no fear of losing them in a crowd. We did, however, get ourselves lost quite a bit.
3. We also went to explore Venetian lagoon islands. Islands such as Burano, Torcello and Lido were all easily accessible by the water bus. Torcello has a Byzantine church which was a nice little hike along a canal pathway. Set in the woods, we pretended we were on a bear hunt. The little island of Burano is so colourful it didn’t even seem real. Burano is famous for its Buranello cookies which required a search and discover mission followed by a taste testing (of course).
Murano with its brightly Crayola-colored houses looked like a film set.
4. We should have gone to Murano on the water bus but fell for the charming tout who said we could take a free water taxi. My son is a sucker for speed and the water taxi really blazed a trail on the water much to his delight.
Of course, the water taxi took us straight to a Murano glass factory from which there was no escape, except through the store. It would’ve been cheaper just to hire a water taxi to zip us around for half an hour. Lesson learned. On the other hand, if you can ignore the sales patter pressure better than we can, a water taxi is really fun (but usually so expensive we had never bothered with it previously).
5. Of all the Venetian lagoon islands, the biggest hit with my children was the Lido because of its beautiful sandy beach. The Lido is famous for its beach which is not far from where the water bus stops. After a pit stop for a gelato (naturally), we spent a lazy afternoon on the beach on hired beach loungers. It was a perfect rest stop in between sightseeing. The kids played in the sand with makeshift toys (a cup and a spoon) and my husband and I just chilled.
I found Venice with children is a really easy place to visit. The food and the transport are guaranteed children pleasers. The little side streets are easy to meander along with lots of interesting store fronts. You will walk so much, they will be really tired by the evening. And, you can top off the cultural sightseeing with a trip to the beach!
As for Olivia Goes To Venice, I know there have been negative reviews from critics who think the book is a far cry from the simple charcoal sketches which characterize the previous Olivia books, that perhaps Ian Falconer has sold out for money, yadda yadda. My children absolutely love the book and can pretty much quote it verbatim. So I don’t care what the critics say – my children loved Venice, a city that is special to my husband and me, and they first learned about it from the children’s book, Olivia goes to Venice.
Have you ever been to Venice with children? What did you think?