MY PRIVATE ITALY: THE MAGIC OF VENICE CARNIVAL

Friday, 20 January 2023 14:13 Written by Francesca Inverardi
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Venice, the city on the water, is famous worldwide for its history and undisputed beauty, but especially for the Carnival, one of the most famous in the world.

Venice is much more; it is a magical city, a unique and iconic place, an open-air museum that can fascinate anyone who visits it, a city to explore but, above all, to experience.

I was lucky enough to live in Venice for two years during university, and I can say that I knew a different city than the one I had visited years before. Not because the city grew or because they made improvements, but simply because I lived in it, I walked through its streets as if I were a Venetian and not as if I were a tourist, I saw places I never imagined and loved Venice as only a local can.

Among the celebrations that most characterize Venice, the one I love most is a historical event that is deeply rooted in Venetian culture, going well beyond the simple fun with disguises and streamers: the Carnival

Historical sources say that the first Carnival of Venice was organized in 1094, according to the will of the Doge Vitale Falier. Just at the end of the Middle Ages, in 1296, the Senate of the Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia officially declared the day before Lent as a public holiday: thus, the annual rite of Carnival was born.

Curiosity: maybe you don’t know that in this period, the festivities lasted six weeks. This habit would endure for many centuries.

Carnival festival originates from “Saturnalia”, a pagan Roman cult in which gifts were exchanged and social roles were reversed. From the Roman "Saturnalia", the Venetian Carnival certainly inherited the goliardic and licentious spirit: during the Carnival, Venetian citizens are allowed, wearing a mask, to mock even the rich and powerful, pretending with their disguise to be like them. In the main areas of the city, there are jugglers, acrobats and musicians, while street vendors offer dried fruit, chestnuts, pancakes and sweets of all kinds.

Already at the end of 1200, in the city began to flourish the first workshops specialized in the production of tools for the processing of papier-mâché, plaster and gauze, the materials with which the masks were formerly made.

Thus was born the figure of the “mascareri”, the artisans who created increasingly rich, decorated and sophisticated masks. Even today, you can see them in action in their typical shops.

One of the most common disguises in ancient Carnival, especially since the eighteenth century and still worn during modern Carnival, is the Baùta (to be pronounced with the accent on the u).