I didn't go during the Carnival Ball time.. though i've already dreamt too.. Maybe sometime in the future...
It's all about the masks and the medival gowns.. many shops sell masks.. but quite a handful sell costumes too.. and i had fun looking at them with no intention of buying of course! Reminds me of all those movies i've watched like Drew Barrymore's Ever After.. haha
In its glory days of the 1700s, Carnival began on Dec 26 and lasted until Ash Wednesday, with mask-wearing and other unofficial activities continuing well into the spring. The nonstop partying, gambling, and general irresponsibility reflected the decline of the Venetian Republic, which had begun to lose wealth and power with the rise of Dutch and British trade in the 1600s. During the period of Carnival it seems that every excess was permitted. The streets were thronged with people intent on partying and carousing, singing, dancing and playing games.
Although we were not there during carnival, you find these locals all over the place dressed up and waiting for you to pose with them adding that carnival atmosphere to the place and giving us a glimse of what it could be like
The masks shops were my favorites... it is a great feeling to hide behind one of those pieces of art and walk the streets where people are watching you ,trying to guess what would you look without it ....
I went into this mask shop without intention to buy anything ,just to look around and admire all the beautiful masks . But than I saw her - the mask of masks!!! The most beautiful one I saw !!!Tried it on and just couldn't leave it back. Had to buy it !!!
Every February, for a week, Venice celebrates the annual carnival. The carnival started about 1000 years ago and the use of masks was established more than 500 years ago. The carnivals and the masks disappeared towards the end of the 18th century with the conquer of Venice by Napoleon. Only about 25 years ago the carnival and the mask making were resumed. I wasn't lucky to be here for the carnival, but the masks are visible all year around. There are plenty of shops where you can get one. Only, make sure you get the "real thing". A hand made mask, manufactured like they used to do centuries ago.
2006 Carnival starts 17th February
Carnival, or Carnevale, is Venice's answer to Mardi Gras. Every Winter for eight days leading up to Lent tourists such as I flock to the City for pageants, commedia dell'arte, concerts, face painting, displaying your costume and masked balls up until Shrove Tuesday which marks the end of the festival.
In it's glory days of the 1700s the Carnevale di Venezia began on 26th December, people would wear masks and party and gamble. right until Ash Wednesday. The Venetian Republic was beginning to lose trade by this time which meant a loss of wealth and power. Carnival ceased along with the Republic when Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Venice in 1797.
In 1979 a group of non-Venetians attempted to revive Carnival a bit like other historical societies hold re-enactments and costume events. The event took off and hence the Carnival in it's present from was born, perking up a traditionally quiet time visitor-wise and creating a new tourist season.
My only gripe about the timing is that the weather is a bit hit and miss at this time of the year. Some of the costumes are so elaborate and sopping wet velvet could be quite heavy I imagine, and big ostrich plumes never look as grand when they're bedraggled!
Carnevale in Venice is an absolutely magical time to visit the city. Venice is not overrun with tourists as it is in other seasons, and somehow recaptures an old world air as Venetians parade through the piazzas in extraordinarily ornate costumes. Incredibly, in one evening we observed Commedia dell Arte in Piazza San Marco, danced to a reggae band in another small square, went to a lavish costume ball on a small island, had a late night meal with a real Italian count in a private supper club, and spent the night on the floor of the train station. (It was a spur of the moment decision to go and we did not make advance reservations -BIG MISTAKE) Nevertheless! It is one of my favorite Italian memories...Word of Caution-the weather can be unpredictable at this time of year and it was bitterly cold when we were there.
If you can, get out in costume, it's a fantastic experience. People stopping you to take your picture or have their picture taken with you gives you some idea of what it's like to be a celebrity!
Here's me and my best friend in costume infront of the Bridge of Sighs.
Keep some time aside to wander around St Marks Square for a few hours in costume posing for photos.....it's a great laugh. It's a bit impractical to sightsee in costume, if you've a long dress on it will more than likely get trodden on in the narrow alleys.
It's worth waiting to get into the Florian Cafe to join all the other revellers n costume.
It's also worth forking out if you can possibly afford it to go to one of the official masquerade balls. Website meetingeurope gives a full rundown of events.
There are thousands of hats, silly and not so silly for sale. If you don't want to get into full costume you absolutely must buy a hat, or a mask, or both! Who cares if you look ridiculous - there will always be someone who looks sillier than you.
The canaval guide was saying : parade of the best costumes of the carnaval - Plaza San Marco - 16h. So among the rest of the options we had for culture and entertainment we choose that one of course
Carnival in Venice is the most visited one in Europe. The masks are unique to this area only. The carnival began in 11 century and it still attracts visitors from all over the world. The most famous Venetian mas is the plague doctor, wearing a black gawn and a white mask with a long hook, where he supposedly had a cloth dipped into garlic solution as a precaution against the plague when visiting patients.
This picture shows the participants heading to the Grand Parade in St. Marks Square. They board gondolas and drift along the Grand Canal, dressed in their finery, playing the part to the utmost, and mugging for the crowd.
Ma Kettle and I held onto this prized location, by sitting along the steps leading from the canals edge. Suggest you lay a newspaper down first, to prevent green algae from soiling your back side. We didn't...
Fortunately, Carnaval time is so crowded, no one noticed our furry green bottoms.
Carnival time...what can I say. There is so much going on, that the narrow walkways are always crowded.
This is a picture of the crowd heading on to the Rialto Bridge Feb 2005. This was one of the slower periods in past years. Judge for yourself.
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.
After its canals and glassware, Venice may be known for it's carnival and masks.
We were not lucky enough to be there during the carnival, but the masks that were on sale in the numerous shops were very nice to look at. Some were works of art in their own right.