Today’s travellers can still enjoy the beauty of the Venice Carnival when they book their Italy vacation packages.
The roots of the Venice Carnival stretch back in time to the days when Venezia was the Republica della Serenissima (Most Serene Republic). At this time, about 1162, there was a victory of a patriarch against Ulrico and citizens took to San Marco Square to celebrate with dances and merrymaking. Magicians and other talented buskers joined in, some seeing the opportunity to make a bit of money from appreciative audiences.
The tradition of Carnival continued for centuries, commencing on the feast day for Santo Stefano (St. Stephen) on December 26th and running until midnight of Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras in New Orleans – the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent – the 40-day period of fasting and penance before Easter). While the Venice Carnival nearly disappeared after the 18th Century, it was revived with great success in 1979 and attracts millions to Venice each year.
Masks have always been closely linked to the Venice Carnival, with its official start kicked off with a day of masked Venetians promenading for what became known as Liston Delle Maschere. People decked in their finery with elegant masks would walk the strip of Campo Santo Stefano to see and be seen. Historically masks were also worn from early October through to Christmas, allowing people to hide their identities with masks made from leather, porcelain or glass. The mascherari (maskmakers) were respected artisans with their own guild. A highlight of the modern Venice Carnival is the contest for La Maschera più bella (the best mask) during the last week of the festival.