Anonymous in Italy: The Carnival of Venice

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posted on Dec. 26, 2016
by Rick Fo

There are many reasons that might make you want to visit Venice, the canals, the Murano glass, the medieval cathedrals, piazzas and palaces. There are certain periods in time though that the city transforms, becomes something completely different and in turn offer you an experience of a lifetime. The Carnival of Venice is just one of these events, marking the days before Lent (the period of fasting before Catholic Easter) taking place in February. The masked festivities last for an entire week, with great pomp and luxury, with drinking, merriment and of course all sorts of anonymous chicanery.

Although the festivities do last for a week, the optimal time to visit the Venice Carnival is the last weekend before Ash Wednesday.

About The Venice Carnival

The tradition of carnival in Venice can be traced back to 12th century, to celebrate the victory of Venice over a neighboring territory. People gathered in Venice’s piazzas, dance, drank and generally engaged in merriment. A few hundred years later, during the Renaissances, it was established as an officially sanctioned celebration. It went through periods of prohibition and reinstatement, the most resent reestablishment was in 1979 when Italy sought to reinvigorate and invest in their historical tradition. There are varied interpretations as to why masks where used which is also dependent on the style of mask. The most prevalent interpretation regarding the masks was that it allowed the revelers anonymity so they could party without the strict social restrictions. This also allowed the aristocracy which was bound by extremely strict codes of conduct, to walk amongst the simple people and even engage in various savory and unsavory pleasures.

Today the festivities are much more family friendly and you will most likely see many families costumed tots in tow walking around the crowded streets of Venice. There are various live shows that take place primarily in the famous St. Mark’s Square, but the streets will be densely populated elaborately costumed Venetians. The city is also host to numerous extravagant balls, costumed of course. These balls are an unparalleled experience, dripping luxury; featuring food, music and drink. Of course they might be a bit more adult so leave the little ones at home. The tickets might also seem a bit steep but remember this is probably a once in a lifetime experience.

Why Go to Carnival

Although the Carnival of Venice can be a little touristy, it’s a completely unique experience, especially considering it is hosted by one of the most beautiful and unique cities in the world. Although when you are visiting Venice during Carnival the festivities surrounding the celebration will be at the top of your itinerary, there are numerous other attractions that you can enjoy including museums, galleries and the canals that surround Venice.

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