January is definitely not a month in high demand for widespread tourism.
The end of the Christmas period, the cold season and the latest restrictions at an international level do not encourage much travel.
So why choose a sojourn in Venice this month?
The winter period is exactly the one best suited for discovering the flavours and beauties of such a particular city. No crowding, no queues for visiting extraordinary places like Saint Mark’s Basilica or the Doge’s Palace, no crowds on the vaporetti boats on the Grand Canal and, last but not least, appealing sojourning offers.
Its nocturnal atmospheres, its mists at times, or a light snowfall like the one accompanying these resting gondolas, increase its charm and a wish to discover hidden corners and perhaps the pleasure of getting one’s self lost within a city which, even more so during this period, appears to escape the rulings of time.
But winter, it is well-known, also urges a search for shelter.
Thus, one may experience the bliss of warming up within the cosiness of a historic café, of sampling some traditional dish at a good restaurant (see below for some advice), or savouring a glass of wine or an aperitif in a typical bàcaro (this is how pubs are called in Venice). Or again, of getting immersed in the atmosphere of an ancient Venetian residence, now home to a museum collection, of enjoying a show or a classical music concert in an elegant theatre hall, or inside an evocative ancient church or palace.
January in town
A new year is opening, a symbol of renewal and good wishes in every part of the world.
We also wish it to be so.
Of course, we might have hoped for a more serene global situation, but life continues, and it is correct to face it with due rules and care.
In spite of everything, Venice remains a city open to the world, and today, as already mentioned, it is perhaps even more appealing. As always, it adds a range of events and tempting opportunities to its unvaried charm.
As per tradition, we are starting from the much-anticipated New Year’s concert, an absolute must.
Conducted by maestro Fabio Luisi with La Fenice Theatre Orchestra and Chorus and broadcast live on the RAI 1 national network, it will end in a flourish, with two cornerstones from Italy’s musical heritage drawn from operas by Giuseppe Verdi.
The beginning of the year at the Lido differs quite a bit, but is equally festive.
This island overlooking the sea, famed for its Film Festival, is celebrating the new year with its classic rendez-vous: “The Hibernists’ swim”, an inebriating dive into the sea by a handful of enthusiasts, welcoming the onlooking public with nibbles to accompany a well-wishing toast.
The festive period will then continue until Epiphany, with the “Befane Regatta” on January 6: a folkloristic rowing challenge characterised by its comical protagonists, who will cross the Grand Canal in fancy-dress from San Tomà to Rialto. Here, a giant sock hanging from the city’s iconic bridge will symbolise the coveted finishing-line. The public will be entertained also in this case with seasonal specialities: mulled wine, hot chocolate, and pinza, the inimitable Venetian cake of the season.
The next rendez-vous for the day will be in Saint Mark’s Square near the ancient Clock Tower (also known as the Tower of the Two Moors), where a gilded and enamelled astronomical clock has been marking the passage of time in Venice for more than five hundred years.
Here, on the stroke of noon, a delicate, ancient mechanism only activated twice a year (the other occasion is on Ascension Day) will make the figures of the Magi and of an Angel with its trumpet exit in a procession in front of the Madonna’s statue.
Furthermore, until 9 January in this case, may we point out the special, extended opening hours for the festive season, allowing a discovery, or even a rediscovery, of an important part of the town’s cultural heritage, the part held by the City Museums’ collections.
In particular, the ones at the Ducal or Doge’s Palace and at the Correr Museum, which will be open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday until 11pm during this period (ticket-office shuts at 10pm).
The City Museums’ collections and the ones at other museums (we are listing them all in the dedicated section) are flanked by the art exhibitions (although many are closing in the first half of the month).
In the first place, there is the one set out at the Doge’s Palace, promoted for the 1600 year-old history of this city.
VENETIA 1600. Births and Rebirths is its title, illustrating seminal moments from its past through a selection of extraordinary works by artists, architects and literary authors, from its very birth up to the second-most disastrous high water in its history, the one in 2019. A tale ending on an optimistic note regarding the future challenges which Venice will have to face for safeguarding its environment and its treasures.
Among the others, two exhibitions “talking” about artistic glass and design are ongoing within the exhibitions scenario: Tapio Wirkkala and Toni Zuccheri at Venini’s at the Rooms of Glass, and Tony Cragg – Silicon Dioxide at the Museum of Glass in Murano, plus the recently opened Romano’s Three stars exhibition at the Querini Stampalia Foundation, dedicated to the famed “da Romano” Art restaurant.
Among the ones about to end, we may recall the photography exhibition dedicated to well-known reporter Mario De Biasi at the TreOci; the one on Mario Peliti’s HyperVenezia project at Palazzo Grassi, and by the sculptor and video-performer Bruce Nauman at the Punta della Dogana.
Also closing this month are Migrating Objects at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection; Campigli and the Etruscans and Power & Prestige, at Palazzo Franchetti; “Scandalously beautiful”, the exhibition dedicated to Emergency’s new Centre for Paediatric Surgery in Uganda based after a project by Renzo Piano (all details are provided also in this case in the relevant section).
Regarding the shows page we may highlight the programming at the La Fenice Theatre with four concerts for its symphonic season, conducted by John Axelrod and Charles Dutoit; the national premiere of the Casanova Opera Pop musical conceived by well-known singer Red Canzian (at the Malibran Theatre), and the first Italian performance of the Marie Antoinette ballet by the Malandain Ballet Biarritz.
Additionally, among the events during this month, we may recall the International Memory Day on 27 January, marked by a special programme with visits and events promoted by the Jewish community at the ancient Ghetto, nestled within the evocative district of Cannaregio, where the Jewish museum and some ancient synagogues may be found today.
Finally, there is an attraction in January that cannot leave one indifferent: the sales.
Post-Christmas shopping is highly sought-after worldwide, and Venice, a town which has always been open to commerce, does not fail to present itself at its full potential within this context.
Indeed, besides being an art city – its art and antiquities galleries are many and exquisite within this ambit, together with its museums and exhibitions – Venice has always been a town where craftsmanship and creative talent have flourished.
Its history has seen skilled hands create precious and sophisticated products, such as mosaics, glass, lace, fabrics, jewellery and perfumes.
In every area of the city, it is possible to meet innovative boutiques and concept-stores, but also typical artisan shops and ateliers specialised in historical masks and costumes.
Plus, the artistic Murano glass of which the city is proud, not only represented by the historic forges on the island (where one may watch its production stages), but also by several shops around town.
Naturally, in addition to the sparkling shop windows of the great, international fashion and luxury brands, all of which are mostly located in the district of Saint Mark, between the Via XXII Marzo and the Mercerie route.
Have a pleasant stay in Venice and, of course, a particular season’s greeting from us as well, for a happy new year!