Venice carnival events and history


Carnival has got very ancient origins in Venice. It even seems that Carnival was already celebrated in the tenth century. During the Serenissima Republic the celebrations practically lasted six weeks, from the 26th December to Shrove Tuesday when the bells announced the beginning of the Lent; in this period people made merry from morning to night and the Republic tolerated everything. Everybody wore a mask behind which any social difference was temporarily abolished. Saint Mark Square and the other little squares of the town became vast stages on which people organized entertainments of any kind.

The most theatrical and impressive performance of Venice Carnival was, with no doubt, ‘the flight of the Angel’ now become the ‘Flight of the Dove’, which consisted in the acrobatics of a man whose waist was tied with ropes, who first of all had to ascend, by means of a pulley device, from the dock to the belfry of Saint Mark’s bell-tower and then had to go down to the balcony of Palazzo Ducale and offered some little bunches of flowers and poetical works to the Doge who, from there, was watching the show. Venice Carnival was abolished by Napoleon at the end of the Eighteenth century. Its organization was resumed and it was brought to its original splendour from 1979. Nowadays masks coming from all over the world use to crowd the Venetian squares, but above all Saint Mark square and its cafés; besides the traditional masks you can see queer and quaint disguises, and many dances, parties, concerts andperformances in theatres are organized. On the last day, then, out of respect for tradition, the image of Carnival is burnt in St. Mark Square.