New years Eve to me has always brought mixed emotions. Initially, everyone agrees to make it to at least three events toomany on the same night. Naturally, the following year we resolutely swear that we want nothing to do with the event at all, and hide away in an obsolete place refusing to even acknowledge the time or date. By the following year, when we have realized that this is also not the answer, we are coming round to the idea of just one simple plan and quite possibly in Venice.
Whilst Venice typically lends itself to spontaneity, and endless rolling parties, I would suggest that New Year’s Eve is the exception. If you have chosen to spend New Year’s Eve in Venice my advice to you would be preparation. Despite slightly muting the sensation of being carefree and wild, it will inevitable take much of the pressure off.
The traditional scene can be found unsurprisingly in San Mark’s square, where locals and tourists alike will gather expectantly. This, as you can imagine, is a spectacular sight. And especially at this strange transition period from one year to the next, the timelessness of Venice feels like the juxtaposition. As the Campanile sounds out the countdown, the excitement builds. Swaying and singing, chanting and dancing the best way to enjoy it is to embrace it.
At Midnight an incredible explosion of fireworks lights up the sky. These can also be seen from Punta Della Dogana, or pretty much anywhere in Venice, including along the Riva dei Schiavioni. But there is something about being at the very heart of it all, which feels childishly wonderful. Inevitably, you will make friends within the crowd, but be sure to hold on tightly to your party.
Before hand, if you are considering a more grown-up alternative, booking a table in advance is advisable. Even if Venice does appear to be quieter over this period, you can be assured that the empty streets have been replaced with wise locals who know the best places to eat. One idea may be to celebrate a long lunch somewhere out in the lagoon such as Trattoria Maddalena on the beautiful Island of Mazzorbo. Beautifully located overlooking the water it has the added attraction of being out of the main throng, thereby allowing you to prepare yourself well for the evening festivities.
One tradition that goes as far back as Roman period, is the eating of lentils over the New Year festivities. This was/is believed to bring fortune, and although you may not be completely convinced by this somewhat dubious superstition, why risk it? Most likely the associations came about because of lentils similar appearance to small coins.
In the Veneto region, this tradition takes the form of the popular dish in the ‘Lenticchie and Musetto’ or Cotechino, and it is also a popular gift amongst friends for exactly the same reason.
The name musetto “small snout” comes from the fact that this type of sausage (typical of the Veneto region) is made with the meat of the pig’s head.
Last but by no means least….the heartiest of Venetian traditions- Swimming off the Lido. To really get off on the right foot for 2017 and show your fearlessness, you can follow the Ibernisti ‘polar bears’ into the icy depths, whilst supporters stand on the seashore shouting their support fueled by plates of Lenticchie and Musetto, red wine and generous slices of Panettone.