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Rialto-Bridge_Venice_Carnival_230The Carnival in Venice if not being the biggest, surely is best known in the world, even though 900 years passed since the first organization of this spectacular feast. It was meant to allow Venetian forget everyday problems and sorrows, dedicating themselves to amusements and fun.

People were gathering in central squares to enjoy and admire thousands of attractions: dancing animals, acrobats, colourfully dressed musicians who’s instruments were literally being destroyed in the frantic of joy. The first documented Carnival in Venice took place in 1296, when the Senate established the day before Lent as a festivity. The worldwide fame of the Venetian Carnival was established in 18th century, becoming a feast most prestigious in Europe, attracting thousands of tourists.

As a popular festivity, Carnival was giving opportunity to enjoy the life to everyone – lords, rich manufactures, and simple workers. To allow feasting without social differences dressing up became important part of the event. To hide the proper identity and everyday habits, people were dressing up and wearing masks. As well they were allowed to assumed the behaviours and attitudes adequate to their costumes.  For this reason, the greeting used mostly in the Carnival period was “Good morning Lady Mask”.

Angel_descending_in_Venice
(source: Virgilio Viaggi)

In 15th century a new Carnival tradition was born. On the famous San Marco Square, a young acrobat decided to climb up the bell tower of the San Marco Cathedral balancing on a rope that was fastened to a boat on the Piazzetta’s pier. After the huge success of this spectacular show which was taking place only the day of Fat Thursday (Italian equivalent for Pancake Tuesday) it was decided to became an official Carnival ceremony.

In years to come this prove of courage and ability was subject to many changes of theme, until one day the rope was climbed by a man wearing huge wings. From this moment the event is known as “Angel’s flight

Venetian-gondolas-during-Carnival

Now days the Carnival feasts consist on numerous events and artistic programmes with detailed calendar for the new manifestation. Differently from traditional, old times Carnival which lasted six weeks, the modern one is more concentrated in few days, but those are days rich in events. Still in great Venetian palaces are organized private parties and balls, full of the Carnival atmosphere of olden days.
The famous “Angel’s flight” take place on midday, the first Sunday of the feast. Till 2000 it was no human, but a mechanical bird to fly over the heads of tourists, but since 2001, for the new Millennium  it was decided to return to roots of the spectacle: a women often well known and beautiful, dressed up as an angel  descend from the bell tower.

You can find here all the Carnival scheduled events until the 8th of March 2011.

 

 

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