For several days we have celebrated carnival- period of winter balls and feasts. This is the time associated for ages with the laughter that chases away sadness and with overpowering joy that gives purification power
There is one place in Europe where during carnival time we may go back to the times of the 18th century Commedia dell’arte. The city turns into an outdoor theatre and the main stage is the St Mark’s Square. Narrow streets are full of mysterious characters wearing strange masks and fairy-tale uniforms dating back to the Renaissance times. The Carnival of Venice we talk about is one of the most famous festivals in the world that for many years has been attracting thousands of people.
This largest and oldest street feast in Europe dates back to the Middle Ages. In the Renaissance time this was the longest carnival in the world lasting several months. Each year it announced the beginning of the most welcome and varied artistic season in the Republic of Venice. Carnival was inseparably connected to art- theater, opera and music. In Venice for several months the world was totally upside down. During the carnival time the discrepancies between poor and rich were invisible. The masks and unique clothing allowed anybody to be whoever they wished to be. All were equal and had the same right to feast. Workers dressed up as kings, craftsmen became bishops, women wore armor. The streets were full of “doctors” and characters from Italian comedies. The world of Venetians attracted, shocked, surprised but also enchanted with luxury, lavishness, fantastic clothes, richly decorated streets and various entertainments.
For ages the symbol of the Carnival in Venice is a MASK. In old times the masks allowed the Venetian gentry benefit from all entertainments anonymously, without consequences from the Republic authorities. The tradition of masks dates back to the 13th century. One of the theories says that masks were inspired by the covered faces of women of Constantinople conquered by Venetians in the 13th century. The other theory suggests that the masks were used for preserving anonymity and privacy of the old small town. With masks all were equal. Aristocracy and poor, merchants and craftsmen, guards and thieves, artists and officers, ladies and servants, nuns and courtesans, butchers and writers, fishermen and sailors, soldiers and spies, maidens and wives, bachelors and widowers – all equal.
The mysterious mood accompanies the Carnival of Venice today, too. it is enough to look at the characters from old epochs walking down the streets to the city. They are wonderful, but also strange. They preserved the spirit of old times, the one we cannot imagine today.
Each year the carnival starts with the procession from Arsenal to the Saint Mark’s Basilica. Then from the St Mark’s Campanile towards the St Mark’s Square an Angel flies, dropping confetti on people. This is the sign to start the feast, which this year lasts from 11th to 28th February. It will be accompanied by theatrical performances, baroque concerts, competitions, acrobatic shows and masquerades near Canale Grande.
Flyin Angel over St Mark’s Square
Time passes and the Carnival of Venice is still celebrated. Our great dream is to take part in it. We would love to sense the atmosphere of old Venetian times and spend winter days in a non-typical form. We hope to be able to show you the post-carnival report from Venice one day…:)
xoxo Marta & Gosia