Continuing with the Carnival in Venice story from my previous post, after my quick wanderings around St. Mark’s Square I headed over to the waterfront. To set the scene here are two iconic photos of Venice in the same location. (These were taken a few days later after Carnival had ended and the crowds had lessened.)
Again I was overjoyed to see those in costume posing for photographs while there was still some glorious afternoon light left in the day. There is a whole list of events during Carnival including boat processions on the Grand Canal and masked balls. There is a main website that lists all the events, if you go just google it and you will find it. Sounds fabulous right? There was a costume contest being held on the main stage of St. Mark’s in the afternoon. I couldn’t get close enough to get a decent photo of that but what I saw looked amazing.
The Carnival of Venice (Carnevale di Venezia) as you probably know is held just before Lent each year, as are other carnivals around the world. The Venice setting is such a great location for the detailed and elaborate costumes. If you go to Venice and want to take part and do not have a costume, there are stores that sell or rent them. Of course you can always get a mask of your own to wear, which is one of the main souvenirs of Venice any time of the year. You will see them everywhere for sale. The masks are what are so famous about the Venice Carnival. But I mean! the costumes are pretty fantastic!
Why do they wear masks? From what I understand it began as a way to hide identity and be anonymous as a way to interact with other members of society outside of their normal social circles and class. Mysterious!
“Venetian masks can be made of leather, porcelain, paper-mache or with the original glass technique. Since antiquity genuine Venetian Masks were, and still are, created and decorated by hand. Each of them is a unique separate work of art.” from IUGTE
An artisan above in his Venice studio making one of his masks out of paper-mache. It is formed in a mold, which he then completes the process and decorates it himself.
Or possibly you can find a place to test your skills and paint your own Venetian mask.
The Carnival in Venice was first celebrated in 1094. So I would say even though it was not continuous for all those years it is still a long held tradition and many thousands of masks have been made, sold, worn and displayed throughout the years.
What kind of costume or mask would you wear?
I just loved it to no end, the creativity, the surroundings, the atmosphere, the attention to the tiniest of details.
But the light was fading and I was not in Venice alone. It was time for me to meet the rest of the group at the Caffè Florian for the most elaborate costume display yet coming in the next post!!