Carnevale starts tomorrow! Don’t forget the “ombra lunga”…

carnevale carnvial venice 2014

The Carnevale of Venice starts officially tomorrow, although events are already underway.

Have a look at the English-language program of events here (available in Italian as well).

One of the reasons why Venice is such a great place to throw a party like this is that there are no cars on the main island in the Venetian lagoon.

And Carnevale-goers, even after plenty of vigorous revelry, never get behind the wheel of a vehicle after they’ve been drinking.

(Known for their love of drink, the Venetians and the Veneti in general are proud of their ability to “hold their wine,” so to speak, and Carnevale is a time of year when indulgence is more than socially acceptable.)

One of the unofficial traditions of the Carnevale of Venice is the ombra lunga or ombra longa.

A few weeks ago, we posted on the meaning and origins of the Venetian word ombra, a small glass of wine.

It’s a word that you hear often in Venice.

Dame do ombre (dammi due ombre), give me two little glasses of wine is an expression that you’ll encounter over and over as two friends enter an osteria or bar.

The ombra lunga — the “long” small glass of wine — is a sort of drinking game whereby you and your friends start at any point in Venice, during the Carnevale, of course, and you head toward Piazza San Marco (the epicenter of the party), stopping at every bar for an ombra on your way.

Part of the fun is the drinking with your friends. But the real fun lies in the adventure of wandering through each campo (square) and seeing the entertainment and bumping into other revelers.

I’ve done it myself and I can tell you that it’s just one of those experiences that you want to do at least once in life.

It goes without saying that the IDEAL wine for an ombra is Prosecco, the unofficial official wine of Venice.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed the Carnevale posts as much as I have writing them.

Oh to be in Venice for the Carnevale this year! I wish I could be there every year… The festival is a true national treasure of Italy and it could only take place in the magical city on the lagoon, Venice.

Thanks for reading!

—Jeremy Parzen

Image source: Carnival of Venice 2014 official site.

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