On february 19th 2017, the Venice Carneval has officialy started with "Il Volo dell'Angelo" (the flight of the angel). Claudia Marchiori has crowned her dream by jumping from the Campanile di San Marco and landed five minutes later, awaited by the Doge and the 12 Marie of the Carnival 2017.
Thousands of tourists come to Venice to see and take part in its magnificent Carnival. Walking around in fancy dress in this city's magical scenery, means taking part in a truly exceptional happening. Those disturbing Venetian masks, eyeing you from the city's alleyways, are something mysterious but at the same time really fascinating. They are an irresistible attraction for what is undoubtedly one of the world's most unique experiences.
Wearing masks has always been more than just simple fun for the Venetians. It's still a strongly felt tradition with deep cultural roots.
The beginning of the carnival this year, on feb 19th, has welcomed over a hundred thousands of people creating some discomfort. It was all sold out: parkings were full and cars were forced to turn back; on trains, buses and water buses you could barely move.
In the street we couldn't even walk without being squashed! Despite its beauty, on this period for children could be fun and exciting with all these costumes but also painful especially for their parents; because of so many people they can get hurt and also get lost.
When: February 19 - 28, 2017
Where: Venice, Italy
A bit of history...
The Venice Carnival is the most internationally known festival celebrated in Venice, as well as being one of the oldest. This congregation of masked people began in the 15th century, but the tradition can be traced back much earlier.
During that period Venetians were famous for being libertines and for transgression, they didn't just use masks during the official Carnival. So Venice made its first law that masks cannot be used around the city at night and then forbade any citizen to wear masks except during the Carnival and official banquets or during all important events.
Later, Venice Carnival attracted foreigners from all over Europe, who came to enjoy the wild festivities while spending fortunes.
The streets were full of people in masks, and no differentiation could be made between nobility and the common people. Generally, the costume worn was a cloak with a long-nosed mask. The most widely used mask, for which Venetians would spent absolute fortunes, was the "Bauta": an ample black mantle which dropped over the shoulders down to the waist with the typical black three-cornered hat and a white mask with a widened protruding lip that could alter their voices. The bauta was used by both men and women who wore it black in winter and white in summer.
Masks were made by craftmen called 'mascareri' and had the status of painters. They were assisted by the 'targheri', who painted faces of all different kinds on the plastered surface. Even today, while walking round Venice you come across craft shops renewing this ancient tradition.
Venice Carneval nowadays lasts a month with shows, balls, music and plays organized all over the city. The event attracts up to a million visitors a year, all competing to show off their magnificent and often very expensive costumes.
"Il Volo dell'Angelo".
In a past edition of the Carnival in the mid-sixteenth century, this happened: a young turkish acrobat succeeded, only with the help of a barbell, to get to the St. Mark's Tower bell by walking, in the din of the crowd cheering underneath, over a long rope that started from a boat anchored on the quay of the Piazzetta. Then he went down reaching the balcony of Doge's Palace, paying respects to the Doge.
After the spectacular success then called "Svolo del Turco", the event was requested and programmed as official ceremony for the next editions, with similar techniques and forms that over the years has been changed, renaming it as "Volo dell'Angelo".
In 1759, the show ended in tragedy: the acrobat fell down to the horrified crowd. After that, the event, held in this way, was prohibited and the acrobat was replaced by a big wooden dove, renaming again this event into "Volo della Colombina".
That went on until 2001, when the dove was replaced by a real person (a performer/celebrity, woman), but this time secured to a metal cable.