Venice Carnival

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The Carnival of Venice is one of the most famous in the world and has very ancient origins, by the end of 11th century. At the age of the "Serenissima" the carnival began on December 26 and ended the mardi gras but in some special years carnival lasted for 180 days. During the period of greatest glory of Venice (in the sixteenth century) there were more sumptuous celebrations, even though the century in which is identified the Carnival of Venice is the eighteenth. In that period was allowed to wear the mask, which made it impossible to make the difference between plebeian and patrician, young and old and rich from poor, then, at least in those days, the social tension was canceled.

Mysterious masks

The place of celebration of Venice Carnival has always been St. Mark's Square. It hosted performances of all kinds often arranged by the "Compagnie della Calza" (Companies of Socks), which have been authentic private committees that organized special events (they were controlled by the "Council of Ten", yet). The "Compagnia della calza" called "I Antichi" (The Ancients), founded by Paolo Emanuele Zancopè in 1979, is very active in preparing shows and festivities. Address: Venice, Campo S. Maurizio 2674, telephone +39 041 5234567 (the seat is actually closed). The puppet theaters were much appreciated in eighteenth century as the "Mondo Novo", true ancestor of modern cinema (the images rotated through a crank and were enlarged with lens). Still exists the "Calle (alley) del Mondo Novo" near Santa Maria Formosa Square and a fresco by Tiepolo at Ca'Rezzonico shows its use. In 1751 in St. Mark's area was able to see a rhinoceros, this event immortalized by the painter Pietro Longhi with a famous canvas, visible today at the Museum of the eighteenth century.

Mask with mirror

In the days of Venice Carnival was not rare to see the "Hunting of the Bulls", an ironic imitation of Spanish bullfighting. They were held in various areas of Venice as San Polo Square or S. Geremia. In the period of carnival the "Forces of Hercules" between Nicolotti (with black cockades) and Castellani (with red cockades) were particularly followed by the people. It was a game of balance, (each team supports each other on the shoulders of comrades), which dealt two or several teams with the intention to form the highest human pyramid. In the period of carnival all theatres in the city gave comic performances as the comedies of Carlo Goldoni. The most used Venetian masks of the carnival have been: Pantalone (Venice mask for excellence), the Bauta (used with tricorn), the Bernardone and the Pitocco (fake deformeds and beggars), and Gnaga (a man dressed up as woman).

Angel's flight

The Piazzetta S. Marco was the scene of performances in the ancient times of Venice Carnival. On "Fat Thursday" there were killed 12 small pigs and beheaded a bull in memory of the victory achieved by the Doge of Venice Vitale Michiel II against the patriarch of Aquileia, Ulrich, in 1162 (some argue that this commemoration has even given rise to the Carnival of Venice). But the most famous event of the carnival was the "Flight of the Angel" or "Flight of the Turkish" or even "Flight of Columbine". An acrobat from a boat went along the ropes until the belfry of the St. Mark's Bell Tower, then descended on the Loggia Foscari of Doge's Palace where he offered a floral tribute to the Doge of Venice in person. Actually this event takes place in total safety and with a reduced route. It runs at noon the first Sunday of Carnival and marks the official opening of the event. During the two weekends of Venice Carnival arrive more than 100,000 visitors. If you intend to stay in the city during carnival, you should book far in advance your affordable hotel in Venice.

Carnival: make up

The Carnival in Venice was celebrated throughout the magnificent eighteenth century although the Venetian Republic was in an obvious state of decline. At the fall of the Republic of Venice the carnival was suppressed by the French rulers before, then by Austrians, also fearing that the frenzy of celebrations could begin the popular conspiracy. Fell into oblivion for almost two centuries, the first modern carnival was held in 1979, celebrated only by Venetians. The first "free radios" of those years offered the soundtracks of those memorable first editions of the reborn Carnival of Venice, setting up stages in St. Mark's Square and in some areas of Venice. Unfortunately the spirit of the new Venetian carnival lasted for a short time. Already in the late eighties the event was sponsored by car manufacturers and it could be considered without the participation of Venice citizens. Currently it can be estimated that about 90% of beautiful masks that you admire during the carnival come from outside Venice, mostly from France and Germany. However, the magnificent masks are still a major spectacle in the magical scenario of Venice and hundreds of photographers are still seeking the best shots of Carnival in St. Mark's Square.

Festa delle Marie

The first Saturday of Venice Carnival is celebrated the ancient "Festa delle Marie". This anniversary will recall a legendary episode. On the 31st of January 942 while there was a collective wedding in San Pietro di Castello, there was an incursion of pirates Narentani catching 12 wives. The pirates have been defeated and killed by the Doge Pietro Candiano III close to Caorle and the 12 girls saved. Since then the Doge in any anniversary gave the dowry to 12 poor wives. Currently, the Feast of Marie is the parade with costumes of the 12 most beautiful girls in Venice, which are carried in triumph in the Square and then rewarded. At midnight on Fat Tuesday to conclude the carnival are exploded fireworks in St. Mark's Basin.

Atelier Pietro Longhi

If during the Carnival of Venice you want to rent a costume or dress historians clothes, perhaps to go to a party, you can go to Atelier Pietro Longhi. The workshop has following opening hours: Mon-Fri 9,30am-1pm and 2pm-7pm, on Saturday 9,30am-1pm by appointment only. Atelier Pietro Longhi is located in S. Polo 2580, at one-minute walk from Campo dei Frari. The staff receives by appointment calling phone +39 041 714478.

The typical cakes of Venice Carnival are the "Galani", the "Frittelle" (donuts with cream, or with raisins and pine nuts), and the "Castagnole".

The next edition of Venice Carnival, will be held from Saturday 30th January 2016 to Tuesday 9th February 2016.

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