Traditional Festival in Venice
This celebration boasts very ancient origins in Venice: it seems to have been existed since the 10th century. Under the Venetian Republic (Repubblica Serenissima) celebrations lasted six weeks: from the 26th of December to Mardi Gras, until the bells announced the beginning of Lent. In this period people made merry all day long and all sorts of actions were permitted. Everybody wore a mask, which temporarily abolished social differences. Piazza San Marco and the other squares (“campi”) of the town were turned into huge stages where all sorts of entertainments were organized.
The most important and spectacular shows would take place in the Piazzetta on the Thursday before Lent: on a stage Castellani and Nicolotti would try and outdo each other in the labours of Hercules, and at the end of the celebration, a myriad of fireworks was launched from a grand three-store wooden building. The most theatrical and spectacular show was the “Volo dell’angelo” (Angel flight), today’s “Volo della Colombina” (flight of the little dove), whereby a man was secured with ropes around his waist and raised, through a series of pulleys, from the quay to the belfry of San Marco and then lowered to the Doge’s palace loggia in order to offer flower bunches and poems to the Doge who watched the performance from there.
The carnival was abolished by Napoleon at the end of the 18th century.
It was in 1979 that it was resumed and taken back to its original splendour. Today, masks from all over the world crowd the Venetian squares, especially Piazza San Marco and its cafés. Traditional masks mingle with fanciful and extravagant costumes. Balls, parties, concerts and theatrical performances are organized and, out of respect for tradition, on the last day the effigy of carnival is burnt in Piazza San Marco