Venice Carnival
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Masked glamour abounds at Venice Carnival

The Venice Carnival is an experience not to be missed. It is the oldest and most internationally known festival in Italy. It began in the 15th century, but the tradition can be traced back to the beginning of the 14th Century. During those years there was a law that masks could not be worn around the city at night. The carnival attracted foreigners, including royalty, from all over Europe, who came to enjoy the wild festivities. Much money was spent on activities such as gambling dens, brothels, theatres, cafés, wine shops (licensed and illicit) and restaurants, as well as booths where one could see exotic animals, ropewalkers and jugglers.

The streets of Venice Carnival were full of nobility and commoners in masks, hiding personal identities and any differentiation in their upbringing.  Generally, the costume worn was a cloak with a long-nosed mask but many couples would dress as well-known, fabled characters.

As in the past, Venice comes alive for the festival, with street-artists and singers and performers on every street and square. It is a picture of colour with much of the tradition of dressing up and wearing masks remaining.  During the 12 day event, there are parties and dinners, balls in the Venetian Palaces, operas and musicals, gondola processions and fireworks.

Thousands gather in Saint Mark's Square in Venice on Sunday to watch the Flight of the Angel, one of the highlights of the Carnival. In the traditional celebration a woman dressed in a Carnival costume descends from the bell tower of Saint Mark's Basilica attached to a wire.
It’s a crazy period in Venice and you can’t but fail to walk away feeling that you have lived in a different dimension.

© 2002