It’s Carnival Time in Venice: Enter the Magical World of Masks
by Kathrin Schmitz
The Carnevale di Venezia is an almost one thousand year old tradition, after being banned for almost 200 years under the rule of the King of Austria, the Carnevale returned to the streets of Venice in 1979. Since then, the carnival in Venice has became one of the most popular celebrations in Europe with approximately 3 million visitors per year. This year’s carnival will take place from the 11th February until the 28th February 2017.
What happens at Carnevale?
The historic carnival was a colourful and spectacular event with theatre shows, ropewalkers, jugglers, exhibitions of exotic animals and fireworks. The streets of Venice Carnival were full of people in masks, and no differentiation could be made between nobility and the common people. Today’s carnival still tries to convey the flair of the 18th century when the Venetian carnival was at its height. The celebrations start with water parades through the canals of the floating city, artistic performances and celebrations in San Marco square. You can still see some acrobatic arts during the Volo di Angelo (flight of the angel) when an artist flies from the clock tower down to San Marco square.
The most distinctive and popular feature of the Venetian carnival, however, are the masks. Masks have always been important in the Venetian culture and mascheraro (maskmaker) was a reputable profession. As masks were also allowed on Ascension and from October 5th to Christmas, people could spend a large portion of the year in disguise. Nowadays there is a competition every year for la maschera più bella (the most beautiful mask).
Types of masks
Volto – the modern Venetian mask. Covers the entire face but doesn’t allow wearer to eat. Mostly worn with a cloak and tricorn.
Bauta – covers the entire face but still enables the wearer to eat, drink and talk. Often combined with a black cape and tricorn. Originally worn by men
Colombina – a half-mask often decorated with gold, feathers, crystals. Originally worn by women
Medico della peste (The Plague Doctor) – very distinctive mask with a long beak. Originally used by doctors to prevent spreading of the plague
Moretta – a black oval mask which didn’t allow the wearer to speak. Therefore also called Muta (mute). Was mostly worn by women.
So pick your mask and dive into the fantastic world of the Carnevale di Venezia. If you would like join people from all over the world at the Carnevale and to combine your masquerade adventure with learning Italian, Cactus Language offers General Italian courses in the centre of Venice from just £115 per week.
Cactus language offers the following types of language courses:
Evening language courses: 19 different languages in 10 UK locations
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