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Venice: the most iconic Carnival in the world

25 July 2022

3 minutes

Ancient traditions come back to life in squares large and small populated with masks of rare beauty, as well as stunning attractions for the joy and amazement of children of all ages.

It was here that famous figures of the Commedia dell'Arte, from Arlecchino to Colombina, came to life and it was against this sensual, mysterious scenario that Casanova wooed his way to fame. Why not let yourself go as well and find out all the many opportunities for pleasure Venice holds in store during its Carnival.

1. A thousand year old tradition

A festival that traces its roots in the past, to the time of the Serene Republic, when masks were worn to eliminate differences between people and dissolve inhibitions before becoming serious and uncovered again for Lent (the period leading up to Easter which marks the end of Carnival). Everything (or almost) was granted by the Doge on these feast days that for centuries have attracted curious and creative people from all over the world to the lagoon city. And in the not too distant past, Carnival also bewitched figures such as Goethe, Lord Byron and Princess Sissi.

2. A unique style

Even in modern times, the classic style persists, with sumptuous masks, towering wigs, baroque fabrics, bows and laces, just as the aristocracy and nobility wore at the time of the Serene Republic's greatest splendour. The added value of a Carnival such as the one in Venice is the extraordinary setting where everything comes to life: walking towards the Bridge of Sighs or St. Mark's Square is like taking a journey back in time along narrow alleys where mysterious knights and sensual ladies move, until any reference to modernity is lost.

3. Timeless surprises

Surprises are to be found around every corner, with authentic "living paintings" (perfect for Instagram posts or stories) where every detail is taken care of, including very precious materials used for masks and the settings. And as the light casts the first shadows of the evening over St. Mark's Square, the fire eaters, trapeze artists, street artists and musicians begin to appear. The programme is expanded every year with events for everyone, with experiences for children and exclusive parties: yet the onset of celebrations is a fixed appointment year after year.

4. The Flight of the Angel and other highlights

The official opening of celebrations has been entrusted to the Flight of the Angel (or Colombina) since 2001. This ritual evokes the deeds of a young Turkish acrobat who, in the second half of the XVI century, walked over a very long tightrope from the belfry of the bell tower of St. Mark's the balcony to the Ducal Palace to pay homage to the Doge. Until the last millennium, a technological wooden dove hovered above the heads of visitors to Venice, showering people below with flowers and confetti during its flight For almost twenty years by now, women from show business, sport and fashion fields have taken turns to experience the thrill of flying from the bell tower down to the square (except in 2008 when - a curiosity not everyone knows about - rapper Coolio enjoyed this flight). The artistic direction of the last Festival, entrusted to the all-Italian genius of Marco Balich (creator and director of opening ceremonies for Olympic events), finally decided to reserve this emotion to the winner of the title of “Maria del Carnevale” in the previous year. The Flight of the Angel that officially inaugurates the celebrations is also joined by many other unmissable moments in the programme, from historical parades to the election of "Maria del Carnevale" - a competition for 12 girls from Venice - or who live in the city - which commemorates the kidnapping of 12 girls by pirates and their liberation, for whom the Doge ordered lengthy celebrations. The already impressive list of events is completed by the historical parades along the canals with rowers strictly in period costume.