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March 2011

February 2011

The number one problem during Carnival

Portable toilets in Venice

ABOVE: Portable toilets in the Campo San Polo. INSET BELOW: The high price of responsible behavior.

Venice porta-potty sign For the convenience of Carnivalgoers, the city of Venice has installed portable toilets at strategic locations around town.

That's the good news.

But there's also bad news for visitors who need to go, and for the spazzini who need to clean up after they've gone:

It can cost a euro to use a biffy, and tipsy revelers are likely to prefer whizzing in the open air (as we've seen them do) to wasting money that could be spent more enjoyably on a beer or spritz.

Bottom line: In Venice at Carnival time, the man who turns his back on you probably doesn't mean to be rude--he's just trying to save the price of a visit to the porta-loo.

Follow-up (Sunday, March 6):

  • We've noticed that the porta-loo fee is charged only on weekends, and only at the busiest locations, presumably because the city can't justify hiring attendants unless it expects to collect a reasonable amount of cash
  • This morning, while walking our dog Maggie, we saw workers pumping out the portable toilets in the Campo San Polo and cleaning the enclosures with a mop and bucket. (The sewage was being pumped to a distant barge via a series of interconnected pipes--a process that isn't easy or cheap, and which obviously helps to justify the one-euro biffy charge.)

Ice skating in the Campo San Polo

Venice Carnival is now underway, and the Campo San Polo (which is about a block from our apartment) has been equipped with a temporary ice-skating rink and a carousel.

At 11 p.m., we passed the rink with our dog Maggie when we saw a group of kids skating together, doing conga lines and a group hug. It was a refreshing change from watching drunk twenty-somethings urinating in streets and canals during the first evening of Carnevale.

You can see the skaters in action below:


New shop: VizioVirtù...e altro


VizioVirtu chocolate shop in Venice

ABOVE: The display window of the VizioVirtù chocolate shop, which was closed during the opening festivities at "VizioVirtù...e altro."

VizioVirtù is a popular high-end cioccolateria on the Calle Campaniel in Venice's sestiere of San Polo. (See its Web site.) Today, the proprietors opened a second shop nearby called "VizioVirtù...e altro." The new store is located on the Campiello San Tomà, a small square just off the Campo San Tomà. It specializes in food products such as jams, French macarons, and other upscale goodies.

"VizioVirtù...e altro" was launched with a grand-opening party on the eve of Venice's Carnival. Here's a short video that offers glimpses of the new shop, invited guests, and members of the public who showed up (some with their dogs):


2015 Update: VizioVirtù has closed. The storefront is now occupied by a branch of Il Doge, an excellent gelato shop whose main store (which we've been visiting for years) is on the Campo Santa Margherita. Be sure to try the limone in hot weather--it's one of our favorite summertime gelato flavors, along with mela verde or green apple.