The Venetian carnival has impressed me since the first time I saw those beautiful, funny, scary and expressive costumes and masks.
While walking along those narrow streets and canals, we cross several shops where they manufacture and sell those very cool masks. The artists craft them before our very eyes, but they don't like picture-taking!
The mask had many uses - to protect gamblers from giving away indiscrete looks, (especially to avoid their creditors), or it was used by "barnaboti" noblemen begging on street corners.
This is not the case in the modern day traditions.
The mask in the city of Venice has ancient origins and was used for many months of the year. Masks were allowed from the day of Santo Stefano, which marked the start of the Venetian carnival, to midnight of Shrove Tuesday which marked the end. (Naturally, they were forbidden on days of religious festivals).
Two different decrees (1699 and 1718) saw the prohibition of wearing a mask during Lent and other religious festivals which took place during carnival. In 1776, an act introduced to protect the by now forgotten "family honor", forbade all women from going to the theatre without a mask and cloak.
Planning on visiting Italy in the weeks before Lent begins (usually late February, early March)? Hit the streets of Venice to partake in Carnevale, the most ornate Mardi Gras celebration in Italy. Bring cash, too, because mask vendors don't take credit cards!
Who doesn't know about the Venetian carnival? I guess the answer is none!!
Been a few days before carnival in Venice we had the opportunity to spot at the last day a man dressed like that. Well now you will ask me how do I know he was a man?! I don't know any woman walking like he did!!!
In February they have a great fun Carnivale, there are so many people dressing up, some are very glamourous. The whole city comes alive with colour and draws people from all over Italy, so be ready for the crowds! The Carnivale of Venice is said to have originated from an important victory of the 'Repubblica Della Serenissima' (now it was called the town of Venezia in those times), in the war against Ulrico, patriarch of Aquileia, in the year 1162. To celebrate this victory, dances and reunions started to take place in San Marco Square, and due to the multicultural character of Venice, magicians and others joined the fun, just for business, and for fun only. In the beginning this celebration that started the day after Christmas and this went on for several centuries until the 17th century, rejoicing in music, culture, rich garments and a growing middle class, and this is more the carnival we know. The music of Vivaldi, the masks, the beautiful and mysterious women, all together
Carnival Masks. Every February Venice becomes party central when Carnival season arrives. You can buy these masks all over Venice including on the islands of the lagoons. They are handcrafted and therefore quite expensive. I spent about a half hour watching a very welcoming and talented lady paint a mask while visiting Burano.
The extravagance that is Carnavale glistens around early February. The city once again, a chandelier of laughter, echos and wine. What a playful character! This once weekly occurence pulled the finest 14th and 15th century writers to their edge. Of deals and erotia, the lagoon recalls.
When Carnival first began it was celebrated from December 26 and reached its climax the day before Ash Wednesday, also known as 'Mardi Gras'. During the period of Carnival it seems that every excess was permitted and the fact that everyone wore masks seemed to abolish all social division. All the campi were thronged with people intent on partying and carousing, singing, dancing and playing games. The most common costume (the baùtta) was composed of a black silk hood, a lace cape, a voluminous cloak (the tabarro), and a three-cornered hat and a white mask that completely covered the wearer's face. This allowed revelers to go around the city incognito. It was useful to go to casini, places where you could play games of chance.
Since 1980 the celebration of Carnival in Venice has gained popularity. People come from the world over to attend private and public masked balls and masked revelers of all ages invade the campi where music and dancing continues nearly day and night. Theatrical performances and an array of ancient games are organized for the amusement of Venetians and visitors alike.
Every year in winter there is a famous CARNIVAL in Venice..
It's normal that people bring souvernirs from their trips. When you are in Venice, instead of T-Shirt buy yourself a Venetian Mask. Masks and costume play a key role in its anonymous world. The tradition of Carnival in Venice began in the 11th century. It's very popular for years and so is now.
Carnevale is very important to Venetians. An old, old custom, similar to the Spring Carnivals witnessed all around Europe, it was here that they did it hardest, ofetn carnivalling for six months at a time in the middle ages. The Masked Balls, famed the World over, are a bounty of colour and music. The Carnevales lost their verve after 1797, with the fall of the Republic, and were halted altogether during Mussolini's fascist regime in Italy - Il Duce had banned the wearing of masks. But they made a return (in a bid for even more tourist money, perhaps) in 1977, and have been growing ever since. You'll find fabulous mask shops all over town, my favourite being Ca' del Sol, at 4964 fondamenta de l'Osmarin, not far from San Zaccharia.
There are masks for sale everywhere in Venice. the specific mask shops are beautiful to see. If you want to take home one for your own Carnival, look for the different qualities offered.
Through no planning of our own, we arrived in Venice for the last 2 days of Carnivale. I think the pictures explain the overall feeling of this wonderful event