Venice Canals Frozen: Is the Photo Real or Fake?

It's a Hoax

 It's not that the canals of Venice never, ever freeze over — it's a rare occurrence but has been known to happen, (once in 1929 and most recently in February 2012) but it has not been cold enough for a complete freeze since then — and in any case the image below is demonstrably fake. 

The Photo

Venice Frozen
Netlore Archive: Viral image purports to show the Grand Canal of Venice, Italy frozen completely solid in February 2014. Via Twitter (image created by nois7)

Description: Viral image

Circulating since: Feb. 2014

Status: Fake

The Hoax of Fame blog noted two days after the image first began circulating on, that the image is actually a mash-up of a photo of Venice's Grand Canal (original source and date unknown) and a photo of ice on Lake Baikal, Russia posted by Daniel Kordan in 2013. Credit for the montage goes to nois7 (aka Robert Jahns), who posted the original to Instagram on or about February 2, 2014.

If you prefer reality to the magic of Photoshop (some of us still do), click here for a slideshow of authentic photos of the iced-over canals of Venice as they appeared in February 2012. There's also a YouTube video available of the great freeze of 1929.

What Venice Weather Is Actually Like in Winter

Winter in Venice can get quite cold but if you dress for the cold and wrap up warmly, you will find gondola rides in the canals quite magical. With relatively fewer tourists than other times of the year, the streets of Venice are quiet and locals go about their business in between stops of espresso and chats with friends in the squares. 

Students huddle outside bars for their evening drinks, hot chocolate flows freely in the colder months and you will want to retreat into snug cafes to sip on steaming cups of hot chocolate. It may sound like a romantic scene out of a movie, but the closest thing you will see to frozen ice in Venice will be the ice in your drink at the bar, not frozen canals. 

Yes, the weather is going to be chilly and the skies are likely to look gloomy and gray. Wear lots of layers, bring along a wool scarf, and do your best to ward off the bone-chilling cold that damp air can bring. 

You will want to bring along your own camera to catch misty views, falling snow, and all the glimmering lights. What you choose to Photoshop over your own images is up to you, just refrain from adding ice to the canals, as that image has already been created. 

You will want to note that February is Carnival time in Venice, and the city will be very busy and more colorful than other times of the winter. Usually, low winter prices rise in order to accommodate the plethora of tourists that arrive to enjoy the spectacle. The weekends in February get even more crowded as trippers flood in by train — all the more reason to suspect that the viral image of Venice canals frozen over is all just a hoax.

Sources and further reading

Venice's Canals Freeze Over
ABC News, 8 February 2012

Fake? Yes When: March 2012 (Ice)
Hoax of Fame, 13 February 2014