For anyone who has been to Venice, we are sure that you will agree that it is one of the most unique cities in the world - there really is nothing like it. Romance and mystery exist side by side in this beautiful city as its intricate canals unravel something exciting at every turn. This is why MSC Cruises simply cannot resist making Venice one of our frequent ports of call and, if Venice’s qualities are the gems, then Carnevale is surely the crown jewel behind its allure.
Origins & History
Undoubtedly the Carnevale di Venezia is one of the most well-known international events on a global level, but not everyone may know the history behind this illustrious occasion and we would be remiss to enjoy the fruits of these festivities without a little knowledge of why it came to fruition.
Carnevale was born of a triumph of the Serenissima Republica against the Patriarch of Aquileia in 1162. In honour of this victory, the people began to congregate in the renowned San Marco Square and would dance and rejoice together. From here on-wards, moments in history saw the festival outlawed and revived in different eras but ultimately in 1979 the Italian government sought to promote and celebrate the history and culture of Venice and it has been re-instated ever since.
Today there are approximately three million people who come from all over the globe to join in the celebration, one of the most important events being the contest to find the most beautiful mask on the last weekend!
There is no denying that the masks of Carnevale di Venezia are legendary, conjuring up images of masquerade and decadence. Who doesn't love a romp around a party in an elaborate gown or costume with an opulent mask concealing their identity? Oh, the intrigue! And in Venice the intrigue is only intensified by the vast array of masks that appear. So here are three masks you might see at Carnevale!
This mask is often heavily gilded and designed to cover the whole face with an over-prominent nose, projecting chin line and no mouth. This design was originally used so that the wearer could continue to eat and drink with ease (bring on the wine!). Usually paired with a black cape called a ‘tabarro’, the bauta is a staple choice for your Carnevale camouflage.
By far one of the most popular choices (especially for tourists). This half-mask is characterised by its ‘eyes only’ coverage and attracts the attention of many as it is often highly decorated with crystals or feathers (or both!). It is held up to the face by a baton or tied behind with a ribbon. Sparkle, Sparkle!
Another very common choice and which is characterised by its full face coverage (obviously eliminating any eating or drinking possibilities!) and is often stark white with colourful embellishments. Often worn with a tricorn hat and cloak, the Volto is the ultimate in identity ambiguity.
The festival is an explosion of colour and exciting events that cater to all types and intentions, with activities each day ranging from traditional concerts to photography tours. However the main attraction is indisputable as the plethora of balls and masquerade parties make for one of the most magical and memorable events of the year.
The most anticipated of which being the St Valentine’s Grand Ball which will take place in a Venetian palace on the Grand Canal. The epitome of grandeur, this ball will provide an unforgettable Carnevale experience. But if you’re in Venice for Carnavale, you really can’t go wrong!