Monday, February 13, 2017

Venice welcomes masked and costumed visitors for its carnival



Carnival cheer gripped Venice on February 11 as hundreds of revellers crowded the canal city's narrow alleys, squares and bridges ahead of an official opening parade in the early evening. Thousands of people will be dressing up in beautiful costumes and masks and will be parading through the ancient streets of Venice with central St. Mark's Square being the starting point of many festivities throughout the carnival fortnight.

The theme of the 2017 edition of the Venice Carnival is "CREATUM Vanity (af) fair" and some enterprising visitors have created their outfits from scratch. "We have all made our costumes ourselves, so each one of us sewed our own costumes," explained Rita Pierangelo who comes to the carnival every year from Vicenza, about an hour away by train.

Mauro Lotto said he had come to let his hair down. "Yes, we've come to have fun. To have some joy in this particular moment, it's right to let oneself go!" Some tourists from Poland had particularly timed their visit to the floating city to experience the carnival atmosphere.

"We think this is the best time to come to Venice for the carnival," said Isabella Rinkieczic." During the two weeks of carnival the city fills with visitors from across Italy and the world. Masked balls are held in ancient Venetian palaces, while concerts and gondola parades are organised in the piazzas and canals. The Carnevale di Venezia is among the oldest carnivals in the world.

Carnival madness first began centuries ago as a period of excess before the rigours of lent; the 40 days of fasting that traditionally precede Easter. Venetians could then hide their identities behind masks and do as they pleased. It was a pressure valve to ease class tensions, allowing the poor, for a brief and controlled period, to break Venice's rigid social order. This year's carnival runs until February 28.

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