Carnival celebrations take place around the world, but when we think of elegant masks and beautiful costumes, we think of Venice. So in 2014 my husband and I decided to go and see for ourselves what the Venice Carnival was like. We weren’t disappointed.
People come from everywhere to see and be seen at the Venice carnival. Many spend countless hours making their extravagant costumes, then they patiently pose in the piazzas to be admired and photographed.
You don’t have to wear a costume, of course. There are plenty people in street clothes, with and without masks. If you would like to wear a fancy costume but don’t have the time or sewing skills required to make your own, no worries! You can buy or rent costumes in Venice and you will find thousands of masks to choose from. But if you wear glasses, like me, your selection is very limited.
Couples, families, and groups come in matching costumes and some bring the dog along in his own little carnival cape. Even a lion standing outside a hotel wears a disguise.
Mask wearing in Venice goes back at least to the 1200s. During the Middle Ages in Venice, masks gained popularity and could be worn most of the year. They concealed the identity so a person was free to do things that he might not do otherwise. Masks were even mandatory for certain things like gambling and voting.
In the late 1700s Austria conquered Venice and the Venetian Republic came to an end. The new government outlawed the carnival and mask wearing. In fact, the Venice Carnival only regained its glory fairly recently. In 1979, a group of art students decided to revive the craft of papier mâché mask-making which had been such a part of Venice’s past. This was a great success and now these beautiful masks are inextricably linked with Venice, where they are still handmade and reasonably priced.
So, if you go, make sure you have extra room in your suitcase for the mask (or masks) that you will want to take home. I had to buy a new suitcase to get mine home.
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Beautiful! How fun. Janet
Hi Janet – It’s so nice to hear from you!
It really was beautiful. And wearing a mask was fun too, I felt like a kid again. I didn’t wear a costume though – I wasn’t about to give up my coat. It was February, you know.
Great pic of you and Jeff! Love your sun and moon “mask”. So glad you enjoyed it.
Thanks, Mary Jane. I saw another one that I might want to bring back when we go in June! 🙂
It looks fabulous – love the photos of the gorgeous costumes (naturally completed with a mask). You and your husband look the part and I adore the new wall decoration – very elegant! It is always nice to have a permanent memento of an enjoyable time.
It was really lovely and we had a great time. We didn’t do costumes, only masks so no one was asking to take our picture. 🙂
Normally, I don’t buy many souvenirs, but I fell in love with that mask and bought it even though it was bigger than my suitcase. It seems to me like I have done the same thing in Venice before. I will have to make a mental note – “when going to Venice, take extra suitcase”. 😉
OK Now I am dying to go back to Venice for carnival and masked fun!
You should definitely go to Venice for the carnival. It’s very different than the one in Nice. I think it is more elegant and of course the backdrop can’t be beat.
I’ve always wanted visit Italy at this time when they have carnival in there. Looks so much fun. 🙂
It is fun and it’s very different than other carnivals that I have been to. Definitely worth a visit.
Looks like a fabulous time with the beautiful pictures to prove it.
Yes, might have to make it an annual event! 😉
Beautiful costumes – I, too, recently attended a costume ball & discovered that dressing up is so much FUN, n’est-ce pas?!
Yes, why should kids get to have all the fun? We are never too old to don a costume and take on a new identity. 😉
But these costumes are waaaay more elegant than the costumes we see kids wear! These are couture elegant- simply gorgeous. I would love to go to a costume ball someday… (sigh)
The costumes we saw in Venice were absolutely amazing! And most of them are homemade. People spend months, if not all year working on these wearable works of art. They are really impressive!
Wow… that’s a serious commitment in terms of time energy and lire! You think they sell patterns for these outfits? I can sew but could never design something like these. Just gorgeous!
Here are some patterns. http://store.reconstructinghistory.com/historic-patterns/carnival.html#ty;pagination_contents;/historic-patterns/carnival.html
Maybe I’ll see you next year in Venice? 🙂