'Venecia' by A. Reyna Manescau. / Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga

Carnevale di Venezia: three ways to find Venice on the Costa del Sol

This might not be the best year to travel to the annual celebrations, so capture the spirit of the Italian city without leaving the area


The most iconic carnival in the world is held in Venice. After two years of silence, the Venetian carnival of 2022 runs until 1 March. But not everybody is able, or even wants, to travel to the most romantic city of Italy with the current instability.

So here's the alternative: three ways to find Venice on the Costa del Sol through its landmarks: islands, canals with bridges, and glass.

Venetian landscape

The Carmen Thyssen Museum in Malaga has three paintings with views of Venice in its permanent exhibition. The pictures depict the city of the late 1890s and are painted by one of the most famous Malaga painters - Antonio Reyna Manescau, whose muse was Venice.

Antonio was born in Coín on 5 December 1859. He studied Fine Art in Malaga, where he eventually established his studio in Calle Álamos, 18. Antonio received important recognition in Malaga, when in 1880 the city hall bought one of his works for its future Municipal Museum. Later he was awarded a scholarship by the Malaga provincial council.

Malaga-born painter, Antonio Reyna Manescau, moved to Venice in 1885. Thanks to his Venetian works, the artist became well known on the art market

In 1882, Antonio chose Rome as the place to study but when he discovered Venice he fell in love with the city and moved there three years later.

The Malaga artist, known as a skilful colourist, began to paint Venice with small, vibrant brushstrokes and a rich palette of vivid colours, adjusted in small compositions, but with a faithful interpretation of the landscape.

Thanks to his Venetian works, Antonio Reyna Manescau became well known and well sold on the art market. The painter died in Italy on 3 February, 1937.

Venetian glass

Venetian glass is typically made on the island of Murano near the city of Venice. Murano glass is hand-made blown glassware, crafted using special methods, techniques and tools. This glass-making process was invented on the Venetian island over 1,000 years ago.

Malaga has its own 'island' of glass and crystal - the Malaga Glass and Crystal Museum (Museo del Vidrio y Cristal). The owner of the collection, Gonzalo Fernández-Prieto, has Venetian glass, which dates back to 16th century, in his collection.

Additionally, a hundred metres from the museum, in Calle Cabello 7, there is aglass workshop, Viarca, a family business owned by Alberto Cascón. Since 1985, the city's most ancient and traditional glass workshop has been fostering and spreading Malaga's craftsmanship. It is possible to view the glass-blowing process as well as to buy something directly from the workshop or from the museum.

The Malaga Glass and Crystal Museum has Venetian glass, which dates back to 16th century

'Little Venices'

The Costa del Sol is known for two 'little Venices' - in Benalmádena and Sotogrande. Puerto Marina in Benalmádena is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The marina was first inaugurated in 1979 under the name of Puerto Príncipe (Port-au-Prince) but, as a picturesque port inspired by Venice, it was completed in 1982 when its name was changed to Puerto Marina.

Puerto Marina. / A. M. S.

Due to its architecture with canals and bridges, the port of Benalmádena became known as the 'Andalusian Venice'. It has gained worldwide recognition and international awards.

Puerto de Sotogrande. / A.M.S.

About 100 kilometres further west from Benalmádena there is another 'Venice', inaugurated in 1987. Sotogrande's world class, exclusive marina is at the mouth of the Guadiaro river.

Its large residential area was built on various islands connected by tree-lined canals with bridges. Many of the apartments are directly located on the marina and some have their own berths. The marina of Sotogrande was also dubbed the 'little Venice of the Mediterranean' and called 'Spanish Venice'.

Both ports are wonderful places to eat and drink with restaurants offering something from Italian cuisine.

For this winter season, chocolatiers of the La Estepeña factory created Venice from 2000kg of pure chocolate

This year Andalucía had its own chocolate Venice in the small town of Estepa in Seville province. For this winter season, chocolatiers from La Estepeña factory created Venice with its emblematic Basilica, crowded St Mark's Square, and its numerous bridges over canals with water, from 2000kg of pure chocolate and syrup simulated the water. As told to SUR in English, the factory decided to prolong the exhibition of this chocolate masterpiece for the period of this year's carnival in Venice.