Christmas and Festive Season in Venice by Marco Secchi

What can you do if you are visiting Venice during Christmas time?

 VENICE, ITALY - DECEMBER 08:  Three gondoliers chat near a Christmas decorated Rialto Bridge on December 8, 2011 in Venice, Italy.

First of all, you can have a quiet walk in a less crowded city, with a magical mist and Christmas lights on the houses and on the canals. In St. Mark square you will find the Christmas Tree, and you can walk under the porticos of the Procuratie, where the ceilings are decorated with luminous rows that recall a cascade of snowflakes.In Calle XXIII Marzo, the street of the luxury shops, you can make shopping under luminaries that create a unique atmosphere with the ancient palaces.

Soak up the festive atmosphere by strolling through the streets and lingering in squares or churches to listen to choirs singing and the church bells ringing. On Christmas Day itself, the bells ring out all day from St Mark's Bell Tower.

If your walk has left you chilly warm up with a hot chocolate in Caffè Florian on St Mark's Square.

Do you want to buy some typical food or some artisanal gift?

Take advantage of the Christmas Market in Strada Nova and Accademia area, maybe drinking a glass of Vin Brulè (typical winter hot wine) to warm up a little.

In Campo San Polo there is the ice skating rink, fun for adults and children.Are you classical music lovers?

If the answer is yes, the Venice Christmas season offers a variety of concerts. Many Venetian churches for Christmas o organize evening shows: from traditional Christmas songs to more modern tunes performed by international singers, in short, shows for all tastes.And you cannot miss the Santa Claus Run on 16th of December, starting from Campo San Giacometto, close to Rialto Bridge.

Venetians have their main Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve or “La Vigilia”. Families traditionally tuck into a fish dinner of several courses before heading to midnight mass. If you want to join them, services at St Mark's Basilica start at 11:30 p.m. and are conducted in English, French and German as well as Italian.

My New Camera ...Diana F+ by Marco Secchi

 Won nearly  £50 at the National Lottery Saturday draw and decided to reinvest the money in a new camera. The lightweight plastic Diana F Plus, originally produced in Japan in the 60s, has three different settings, color filters, and a pinhole option to experiment with. It’s known for producing vignetting, and also comes with a powerful flash and tripod capabilities, which will be useful for nighttime shots on the boardwalk. I love the element of surprise associated with cameras like these. The result is so unpredictable and dreamlike. I feel like a kid on Christmas....cannot wait to get it through the post!

Regata Befana 2012 by Marco Secchi

VENICE, ITALY - JANUARY 06:  Two of the participants sail under Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal dahead of the 34th Befana Regata on January 6, 2012 in Venice, Italy.  In Italian folklore, Befana is an old woman who delivers gifts to children throughout Italy on the feast of the Epiphany on January 6 in a similar way to Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus. (Marco Secchi)VENICE, ITALY - JANUARY 06: Two of the participants sail under Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal ahead of the 34th Befana Regatta on January 6, 2012 in Venice, Italy. In Italian folklore, Befana is an old woman who delivers gifts to children throughout Italy on the feast of the Epiphany on January 6 in a similar way to Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus.

Images from Venice event  and around the world about Epiphany

Befana or Ephiphany in Venice by Marco Secchi

The Feast of the Epiphany, celebrated January 6 with a national holiday in Italy, and the tradition of La Befana are a big part of Italian Christmas celebrations. Epiphany commemorates the 12th day of Christmas when the three Wise Men arrived at the manger bearing gifts for Baby Jesus. The traditional Christmas holiday season in Italy lasts through Epiphany.On Venice’s Grand Canal, at 11 c'clock men dressed as old witches – ‘befane’ in Italian – race towards the Rialto Bridge, standing up as they row Venetian style. This event takes place every year in January in celebration of Epiphany.

VENICE, ITALY - JANUARY 06: A  participant of the Befana Regata is seen rowing on the Canal Grande on January 6, 2011 in Venice, Italy.  In Italian folklore, Befana is an old woman who delivers gifts to children throughout Italy on Epiphany January 6 iin a similar way to Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus (Marco Secchi/Getty Images)

Best places to watch the race: Rialto but you must get there quite early, Riva del Vin or just around Rialto Mercato.

Venice Frittelle (Frittole) by Marco Secchi

frittele of St Giuseppe, pastry typical of mar...Ok Ok I know Christmas and New Year are still here, but we have to think ahead and ahead in sweets terms means: Frittelle…Frittole..Fritoe, or fritters, are the most famous dolci or sweets of  Venice during the Carnival Season.

Frittelle begin showing up in pastry shops, Cafes and  bakeries, mid January and  during the weeks leading up to il Carnevale di Venezia. When Carnival is over, frittelle disappear from the store windows almost as quickly as tourists in masks.

Frittelle come in a variety of styles, both filled and unfilled, the available choices usually include:

Frittelle veneziane. No filling, but with raisins and pine nuts mixed into the fairly heavy dough. After frying, the frittelle are rolled in granulated sugar.

Frittelle con crema chantilly. Filled with a light vanilla-flavored pastry cream and rolled in granulated sugar.

Frittelle con cioccolata. Filled with a mild chocolate-flavoured pastry cream and rolled in granulated sugar.

Frittelle con zabaione. Filled with a Marsala-flavored pastry cream and rolled in granulated sugar.

The most famous and renowned places where to get the Frittelle (and my votes) are:

  • Pasticceria Tonolo: Contrada San pantalon in Dorsoduro 10/10
  • Pasticceria Didovitch: Campo Santa Marina     9/10
  • Pasticceria Bonifacio Calle degli Albanesi San Marco 4/10 (uncooked)
  • Panifico Fornareto Calle del Forner Cannaregio  8/10
  • Coffe Pasticceria Pitteri Strada Nuova Cannaregio  9/10 but poor Cappuccino!
  • Dal Mas  Cannaregio Rio Terà Lista de Spagna, 150  8/10
  • Rosa Salva  (5/10)

The worst Frittelle (IMHO)

  • Majer (San Giacomo dell’Orio) : just one word Terrible!!!

Last year prices were around 1.00 and 1.30 Euro each  but I have seen also a few outrageous 1.50

Santo Stefano Celebration in Venice by Marco Secchi

VENICE, ITALY - DECEMBER 26:  Rowers dressed in XVI century costumes escort a live nativity scene, whilst ferrying them in a gondola from St Mark's to the Island of S Giorgio on December 26, 2011 in Venice, Italy.  The event is in its first year wants and to replicate an ancient tradition when the Doge of Venice used to go to the Island of S Giorgio to celebrate the relics of Santo Stefano on Boxing Day. (Marco Secchi/Getty Images)Gondoliers dressed in 16th century costumes ferry people performing a Nativity scene from St Mark's to the Island of San Giorgio.

The event, in its first year, replicates the ancient tradition when the Doge of Venice used to travel to the Island of San Giorgio on Boxing Day to celebrate the relics of Santo Stefano.

Christmas Holidays by Marco Secchi

NOALE, ITALY - DECEMBER 18:  Participants dressed as Father Christmas take part in the Noale Sant Run on December 18, 2011 in Noale, Italy. Close to two thousand people participated in the third annual Noale Santa Run, one of the largest non competitive Santa Run in Italy. (Marco Secchi)NOALE, ITALY - DECEMBER 18: Participants dressed as Father Christmas take part in the Noale Sant Run on December 18, 2011 in Noale, Italy. Close to two thousand people participated in the third annual Noale Santa Run, one of the largest non competitive Santa Run in Italy.

Can a Muslim say happy Christmas to his friends? As a Muslim I get asked this question all the time during this period . Often I get even told off by some good doer Mullah acting for the Islamic Police!  As I have done for so many years now, once again, I extend these wishes from around the globe, to you all Merry Christmas to my Christian friends and Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends

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Saffron Buns by Marco Secchi

Saffron BunsThis blog is about Venice and Photography not Scandinavia....but I think that due to the connection between St Lucy and Venice this recipe is a must!

The secret to making these mildly sweet pastries—based on a recipe given to us by Gunilla von Heland, a food editor in Stockholm—is to steep the saffron in hot milk before incorporating it.




2 1?4-oz. packages active dry yeast 2 cups milk, heated to 115° 2 tsp. saffron, lightly crushed 3?4 cup plus 1 tsp. sugar 6 1?2 cups flour 3?4 tsp. kosher salt 3 eggs 12 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1?2" cubes, softened Canola oil, for greasing 64 raisins, for garnish


1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix together yeast, milk, saffron, and 1 tsp. sugar; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining sugar, along with the flour, salt, and 2 eggs. Mix on low speed until dough forms and gathers around the paddle. Replace paddle with dough hook and add butter; knead on medium-high speed until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, 8 minutes. Transfer dough to a large bowl greased with oil and cover with plastic wrap; let rest in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 hour.

2. Divide dough into 32 pieces and roll each piece into an 8"-long rope. Form each rope into an S shape and then roll each end into a tight spiral.  Place shaped dough pieces 2" apart on parchment paper–lined baking sheets; cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

3. Heat oven to 400°. Uncover the dough pieces and place a raisin at the center of each of the spirals. Lightly beat remaining egg with 1 tbsp. water and brush each bun with egg mixture. Bake until buns are golden brown and cooked through, 16 minutes. Transfer buns to a wire rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Christmas in Venice by Marco Secchi

While preparation are taking place in Venice and the Lagoon for Christmas here are few tips:A wonderful way to spend Christmas Eve is to attend midnight mass at St. Mark's Basilica. But remember, midnight mass starts at 10:30 p.m. and you should get there early to get a seat (no tickets are needed). Try to enter through the north entrance and not the west entrance often used by tourists.

VENICE, ITALY - DECEMBER 08:  Three gondoliers chat near a Christmas decorated Rialto Bridge on December 8, 2011 in Venice, Italy. HOW TO LICENCE THIS PICTURE: please contact us via e-mail at or call our offices in London   +44 (0)207 1939846 for prices and terms of copyright. First Use Only ,Editorial Use Only, All repros payable, No Archiving.© MARCO SECCHI (Marco Secchi)

Venice's main Christmas market is at Campo San Stefano and ends on Christmas Eve. I have been told that is going to open also this today there is no trace of it! There is a small market and an ice rink in Cpo San Polo

Even though December 26th is a national holiday (St. Stephen's Day), most of Venice's museums and sites will be open.

Several Venice restaurants are closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and even on the 23rd and 26th. Most hotel restaurants and Harry's Bar are open. Be sure to do your homework and make reservations ahead of time for Christmas meals. We hear Caffe Quadri and the restaurant - Piazza San Marco's famous cafe - is open on Christmas Day. Good place for Christmas breakfast and coffee!

Remember that the vaparetto schedule changes on major holidays. Check the signs posted on the platforms for schedule information.

Each year on December 26, the Frari Church in San Polo (in the Campo dei Frari) offers a free concert at 4:00 p.m. The church is filled with magnificent art, including Titian's Assumption of the Virgin, Canova's Tomb and a carved monk's chair from 1468.

For an incredible seafood dinner and a warm celebration at midnight, go to Trattoria Antiche Carampane on New Year's Eve. (San Polo 1911; (39) 041 524-0165) The price for dinner runs about £70 per person. No matter where you go that night, you must make reservations.

Another restaurant recommendation: Antica Trattoria Poste Vecie (Rialto Pescheria Venezia; (39-041-721-1822) is open on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. This restaurant also has excellent fish and a larger menu as well. The soups and Venetian-style calf's liver are terrific. Fireplaces keep the restaurant warm on cold nights.

If you're in Venice on January 6, don't miss the Befana races. Men clad in long skirts, wigs and babushkas climb into boats for races on the Grand Canal. The best views are from the Rialto Bridge.

Christmas in Venice by Marco Secchi

Venice Father Christmas in Venice...***Agreed Fee's Apply To All Image Use***.Marco Secchi / +44 (0)207 +39 02 400 47313. e-mail (Marco Secchi)

Father Christmas wearing boots to cope with seasonal high water walks along Riva degli Schiavoni in Venice.

The Christmas of most of the old Italian writers as well as  Dickens and even  Hollywood movies is all about family, friendship, compassion and goodwill for all , it is about the “Christmas Spirit”  that  stands for core religious values. On the other side The Christmas that you see every day is about demanding or try to sell expensive gifts, selfishness, eat as much as you can, getting drunk.

I hope you belong to the first category but whatever you choose a Merry Christmas to all my Catholic friends!

A usage of one of my images in Vanity Fair Italy

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