Like in Rome, Christmas and New Year’s in Venice is a special time. Many storefronts are adorned with boughs of holly and ornaments. String lights are draped overhead in the narrow streets. You become even more aware of that “special time of the year” by the large influx of tourists that crowd Venezia’s small alleyways.
Fireworks From A Gondola
Until you attempt to tear away an Italian from their family on New Year’s Eve!
My goal was to watch the fireworks on a gondola because I had read in an online forum it was a possibility.
When I spoke with several gondoliers, however, some chuckled and said no one would do it because everyone would be with their family… unless you paid well.
Whether or not gondolas are even allowed on the water that late at night is another thing. Unfortunately, due to the language barrier, that is one question I was unable to find out. Assuming it was allowed, though, with prices of €80 for day and €100 for night rides for up to 6 people, I can’t imagine the price of a gondolier who would agree to doing the midnight ride!
We headed out from our apartment at about 11:20PM and found it wasn’t overly crowded at the docks in front of Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace).
Although a gondolier misinformed me about the location where the fireworks would be, we were still able to see the majority of it. Ponte della Paglia, which is south-east of Palazzo Ducale, is the bridge that would afford you the most views from its higher elevation. For even less crowds, head over to Punta della Dogana across the water.
This is what it looked like about 15-20 minutes until midnight.
Crowds in front of Doge’s Palace.
The fireworks lasted a good 15-20 minutes, and crowds started to disperse immediately after it was done.
A lot of people hung back to continue celebrating by drinking in the Square. There were even a couple of crowds who were singing [what I’m guessing are] celebratory songs to ring in the new year.
Unfortunately, as is common with many parties and drunken crowds, bottles and trash were strewn all across the Square and docks areas.
To Wear Or Not To Wear The Mask
We wanted to get as festive as possible for the countdown and thought masks would be great to wear.
The mask shops are everywhere, I think there may be at least three on every street in the San Marco sestieri, or district, alone.
One shopkeeper told me that everyone wears a mask for the countdown. In reality, about 1 in 25 people was wearing a mask.
NYE Dinners and Reservations
Find a restaurant ahead of time, inquire about their New Year’s Eve service, and reserve your spot. Chances are, the restaurant you were eyeing will require a reservation.
Restaurants will offer a special New Year’s menu that may be slightly different from their normal fare.
After having eaten at Ae Sconte twice already, I wanted to check out a different spot, but every restaurant I inquired at required a reservation and didn’t even allow us to be put on standby in the event of a cancellation. I called Ae Sconte, and they remembered me from our previous visits. They were able to squeeze us in and told us to come by in about 20 minutes.
We sat at the window table inside right by the entrance. Although this table is normally reserved for their employees and it’s right by the alcohol cooler, we just appreciated the fact they took us in when all other restaurants rejected us. When my son had mentioned there wasn’t pizza on the menu, one of the servers overheard and said they’d make it for him anyway.