In addition to the costumes, visitors from around the world and the frittelle, there are 73 events during the several weeks leading up to Martedi Grasso (Fat Tuesday). There are sumptuous dinners at the palazzo around the city, the most prestigious (and most expensive), Il Ballo del Doge held at Palazzo Pisani Moretta, with it’s dress code and costume theme. Heaven forbid your wig or makeup not match the theme and century! There are night tours along the small alleys and canals, hot chocolate tastings at the famed Caffe Florian. A newcomer to the events, the Arsenale is geared toward younger party goers with DJs, bands, and partying until the wee hours. They are all steeped in the history of Venice down to the last event which remembers the glory of La Serenissima (the Republic of Venice). The videos from this year’s Carnevale tell the story. Enjoy a summary of 2015!
Flight of the Angel
This event of Carnevale comes from the 16th century when a young turkish acrobat walked a tightrope from the bell tower to the Palazzo Ducale carrying an homage to the Doge, called originally the Svolo of Turkish and took place the Thursday before Lent. Eventually this dangerous spectacle ended in tragedy when an acrobat crashed to the piazza horrifying the onlookers and a large wooden dove replaced the acrobat. Today with the aid of a safety harness, the “Angel” is securely lowered from the belltower to the Carnevale stage in San Marco. This year’s Angel was a 19 year old from Mestre.
Il Concorso della Maschera più bella (The most beautiful costume)
Each day you may enter for free this contest, though you’d better take a look at the sophistication of the costumes being paraded before you enter. I’ve never had the courage after seeing the elegant, the imaginative and downright crazy costumes people have.
You may enter twice each day. Each year Carnevale has a theme which also must be incorporated into your costume. Though the contest is full of people impersonating Doges of the ages, medieval knights you’ll see also people dressed as bananas, wind up toys. Their are prizes for the winners daily with the final winner announced on Fat Tuesday. The attendees get to vote, though you must be sitting inside the area (paid) and you get paddle with a “Yes” or “No”. Don’t despair if you don’t make it on the first try. You can come back and hope for a more friendly crowd.
Festa delle Marie
The origins are from the 9th Century, where 12 of the most beautiful girls from poor families were assigned to a wealthy family who dressed them in clothes, jewelry and even furnished a dowry which made them attractive to wed. The financial burden to the rich families and bitter friction between the “winners” and “losers” brought an end to the Court of Marie and the poor girls dressed for the dance were exchanged for the “Marione” or Marie del Tola (Wooden Marie) who needed no dowry and whose elaborate decorations and jewelry were returned at the end of the festival to it’s owners.
Since 1999, however, the Festival has become part of the events of Carnevale, a beauty pageant, with 12 girls, one of whom is proclaimed the “most beautiful”. The pagentry lives on and the girls (along with the ‘wooden’ Marie) arrive in the piazza on the shoulders of handsome young gondoliers a vision of delight for both men and women!
Il Volo dell’Aquila (Flight of the Eagle)
This event of Carnevale Venezia comes from the 16th century when a young turkish acrobat walked a tightrope from the bell tower to the Ducale Palazzo carrying an homage to the Doge, called originally the Svolo of Turkish and took place the Thursday before Lent.
This year, Giusy Versace, cousin to the famous Gianni & Donatella Versace, a celebrity in her own right was the Eagle. A serious car accident in 2005 claimed both legs but with her carbon fiber prosthetics she began competing in 2010 and has set numerous records, in both the 100 and 200 meters events. Her latest achievement was on the TV show Ballando con le Stelle (Dancing with the Stars) where she won 56% of the votes from the public. She is President of foundation “Disabili No Limits” the national non-profit organization raising funds to secure high-tech aids for economically disadvantaged people with disabilities. Follow her on Facebook
She was a perfect choice to fly as the Eagle, a symbol of courage and force.
The Carnevale closes with the Svolo del Leone (the flight of the Lion) the official symbol of La Serenissima (Republic of Venice) and the crowds of Venetians singing along with the anthem.
A Few More Pictures:
Plan your visit for Carnevale di Venezia 2016
The dates are 23 January until 9 February 2016. Start working on your costume now!