The Carnival of Venice
The Carnival of Venice is unique in the world, it is the magic festival where anything can happen…
The calli (alleys) of this wonderful city are animated by continuous theatre performances sharing happiness and joyfulness with people. Everyone is disguised in order to celebrate a fascinating world made of dances, jokes, exclusive galas and romantic meetings for ten days.
Venice wears a colorful dress and a mask attracting visitors and tourists from every part of the world.
Its origins are very old: the first evidence goes back to a document by Doge Vitale Falier in 1094 who talks about public entertainments during the days before the Lent and mentions the term “carnival” for the first time.
The official document declaring the Carnival a public festival dates back to 1296 when the Senate of the Republic declared the last day of Lent is a public holiday.
The Carnival of Venice reaches its glory and International recognition in the 18th century, becoming very famous and prestigious throughout all Europe and, thus, an appealing event that makes Venice a most desirable destination by millions of tourists.
The famous adventures of one of the most famous Venetian people of that time, Giacomo Casanova, date back to this period.
The 18th century, the century of not only Goldoni and Casanova, but also artists like Broucher and Fragonard, Longhi, Rosalba Carriera e Giambattista Tiepolo, is the one representing better fantasy, convivial lightness and joyous carnival suggestion.
The establishment of the Carnival by Venetian oligarchy is attributed to the Serenissima (the Most Serene Republic of Venice) that needed to allow the population a short period totally dedicated to amusement and entertainments when the Venetians and strangers could go down in the city streets in order to listen to music, sing and dance.
During the Carnival, Venetian activities and affairs took second place and people spent most of their time having fun, making jokes and looking at performances with jugglers, acrobats, musicians and dancers, which were organized in every part of the city, overall in Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square), but also along the Riva degli Schiavoni (Bank of the Schiavoni) and in all the biggest campi (squares) of Venice.
Many years ago, the Carnival was far longer, it started the first Sunday of October intensifying its atmosphere the day after the Epiphany and reaching its peak during the days before Lent, while nowadays it lasts almost tend days starting from the days before Lent, but the fever of the Carnival begins many days before and maybe we can say that in Venice the fever of the Carnival continues all year long.
Masks and Costumes
In the past, when people wore masks and costumes, they could hide their identity and, thus, social, sexual and religious groups didn’t exist anymore. Anyone could behave according to her “new identity”. For this reason, when people met a new “character”, they use to say: “Good morning Mrs. Mask”.
Participating to this collective dressing up remaining incognito was and is still the essence of the Carnival. It was a light-hearted period when people got free of their routines and of any bias and backbiting. Anyone played a role on a big masse stage where actors and audience merged in a parade of figures and colours.