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The Venice Carnival is famous for its strong identity and its ability to preserve traditional masks that are always magnificent through the centuries thanks to the imagination and creativity of craftsmen and enthusiasts.

For a whole week Venice is transformed into a masked dance.  No matter where you go – at this time the town of the lagoon has the presence of masked people with sumptuous dresses.  A unique experience for all those attending the Carnival of Venice.

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The origins of the Carnival of Venice can be traced back to 1039, when the word “carnival” for the first time was written on document.  After the abolition of Carnival celebrations, following the occupation by Napoleon, the Carnival had to wait until 1979 to resurrect from its ashes!

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It should be remembered that the use of the mask and disguise in men’s and women’s clothing was widespread in Venice even during periods outside the Carnival to allow activities where anonymity was important, not least gambling, and to give the protagonists of the libertine businesses the assurance that they can successfully fulfill their loving missions.

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In the 18th century the Carnival flourishes and reaches the maximum splendor multiplying masks and costumes, juggling and acrobatics attractions, theaters and the Art Commedia, whose costumes remain crystallized in the tradition of Venetian masks.  It is also the era of libertines, like the most famous and outrageous story in the story, Giacomo Casanova!

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The most famous masks of Carnival in Venice the most popular in the seventeenth century and still among the favorite ones today is the “ Baute” a mask  with male features and pronounced nose covering only part of the mouth  to leave  plenty of room for drinking  and eating. They were worn by both men and women, for their practicality and for the perfect covering of their facial features, and was traditionally brought together with the  “tricorno”, one of the most popular headdresses, and the “tabarro”, the typical black mantle. Among the masks Colombina and the Pantalone are the two most famous ones.

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The Carnival traditions of Venice

Il volo dell’Angelo (Angelo’s Flight): This secular tradition has been performed in various ways over the centuries.  It seems to have been performed for the first time during the sixteenth century by a Turkish acrobat  who reached the top of the bell tower to “fly” down to the square.  The angel-acrobat was replaced by a wood barrel until 2001, when tradition was restored with true “angels” in flesh and bones, chosen among prominent personalities such as athletes and singers, usually women.

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La festa delle Marie: This millennial tradition, born in the 10th century, has been repeated with endless variants.  The canvas of the event consists of the choice of poor, graceful Venetian girls, who celebrate the wedding during the Carnival.  In ancient times, the nobles of the city donated gorgeous dresses and jewels to the “Marie”,  who parade for canals and calli and attended rituals, ceremonies and parties.  When tradition, at the end of the thirteenth century, seemed too frivolous to the governors, the “Marie” were replaced with shaped and painted figurines: the Venetians welcomed the new parade, with protests and vegetable launches, and still today call “Maria de toea”(Mary figurine)  a boring and bare woman.  Tradition has returned to be celebrated with the true “Marie” only in 1999!

Frittelle and Galani: The typical sweets of the Venice Carnival are the “Frittelle”, sweet fried pasta balls, often stuffed with cream or “zabaione” and  raisins.

The “galani” are a kind of sweet fried lasagna  dusted with icing sugar.

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Tommaso Galli  – Photographer and Blogger – http://www.tommasogalli.it

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