Venetian Carnival is an event you can’t miss.
It means transgression, culture, tradition, art and history.
In the past
Carnival has its roots in Greek and Roman
times, to the feasts related to the Cult of the Dionysus and to the Latin
Saturnalia, celebrating the end of Winter. In Christianity it became a
period of merrymaking before Lent fast.
In Venice Carnival began on Boxing Day, December 26, and reached its climax
the day before Ash Wednesday. While it lasted, the law was for more or
less held in abeyance: the wearing of masks and disguises abolished social
divisions of the duration.
The 18th C. historian and art critic Marcel Brion left an interesting description
"The carnival opened on the first Sunday in October and went on until Lent.
In other words, for six months every year the people abandoned their
regular avocations, and, protected by the anonymity of the mask, threw
themselves into the light- hearted pastimes which immediately became
their main preoccupation"
The period of Carnival was rich in public festivities and private parties,
street entertainments, shows and general merrymaking. Theatres were all
involved to offer the richest programme in Europe.;
In the last 20 years Carnival in Venice has been re-established and recreates
the atmosphere of the glorious past.
Masks have reappeared, and 18th century garments and traditional costumes
again mingle with other grotesque disguises. The old custom of giving
balls and theatrical shows has been revived, along with an array of ancient
Every year a different a subject is chosen and the main events are tailor
on this traditional main topic.
Residents and tourist both enjoy taking part and you can find a variety
of events throughout the City, though the hub remains St. Mark’s
The city teems with people wearing the most imaginative masks, happily
crowding the streets and the Venetian campi (squares), having fun and
trying to get noticed, maybe hoping to appear on the next-year calendar.
Coffee and pastry shops turn out freshly made Frittelle
and Galani, the traditional sweets, symbols of
the Venetian Carnival.
Mask-making was very popular in the past as it
is today: the use of masks in Venice was so widespread that the mask-makers
had their own official artisan status as early as the 15th cent.
Tabarro and Bauta: the Bauta was composed of a black silk hood
and a lace cape; the costume was completed by a voluminous cloak (Tabarro)
and a three-cornered hat. Wearing a bauta, a tabarro and a white mask
covering most of the face, one could go anywhere completely incognito.
October 29th 2005 - February 26th 2006
FROM BELLINI TO TIEPOLO
Great Venetian painting from Sorlini Foundation
The exhibition presents a rich selection of works from the vast Sorlini collection.
These fifty Venetian paintings date from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century and
usually hang in the various residences of the family. Here, they are brought together for
the first time in a public exhibition that provides a most stimulating account of three centuries
of art in the Venetian Republic.
Information on the Exhibit
THE SENSA FEAST DAY
First Sunday after Ascension Day
In the old times this festivity held an important role in the social and political
life of Venice, and was probably the most important and sumptuous ceremony
for the City, since it celebrated the Venetian sea-power. The Marriage of Venice
with the Sea drew huge crowds since the Feast was established, back in the
11 th century.
Every year the Doge aboard the Bucintoro - the sumptuous state barge - along
with the noble, the clergy the foreign ambassadors sailed for the port
of St. Nicolò Lido, followed by a procession of boats
and gondolas and having arrived at the mouth, the Doge cast a ring into
the sea and pronounced the words "We wed thee, sea, in token of
our perpetual rule". With this symbolic official ceremony a series
of festivities began on the Lido and went on for 15 days.
And this is a festival we still celebrate the very same way, with the
mayor instead of the doge, and without the Bucintoro - for the last one
was destroyed by Napoleon.
THE REDENTORE FEAST DAY
Third Sunday of July
This Feast commemorates the end of a devastating epidemic of black plague,
which in 1576 carried off a third of the Venetian population. The Government
decided to make a vow to Christ the Redeemer, promising to erect a Church if
the plague ceased.
The church was erected by the famous Architect Palladio,
and each year the day was to be celebrated on the third Sunday of July. A pontoon
bridge had to be constructed to allow the large procession of people to flock
from one side to the other. A night's vigil had to precede the Festa. The vigil,
however, did not take place in churches or homes but in boats, any kind of
boat, all covered with branches, lanterns and decorations and moored along
the Giudecca Canal.
The vigil was well supplemented with food and wine and the eating and
drinking went on and on, a kind of water-picnic. Those that could not
spend the night on a boat, crowded the quayside of the Giudecca in an
endless line of laid tables.
Now we have used the past tense here, but the festival is still celebrated
the very same way and it is the most spectacular, typically Venetian
festival. The firework display is just breathtaking: the fires set off
from barges in St. Mark's basin, going off right above your head: a play
of lights and reflections producing a kaleidoscope of colours with the
with the incomparable backdrop of St Mark's Square.
THE ROWING SEASON
April - September
Every year from springtime to fall over one hundred regattas are organized in Venice and its Lagooon. Many of these races are spontaneous events held by the several Rowers' Associations of the City; some are promoted by the City of Venice, and together with the the Rowing Clubs many efforts are made in order to support the rowing sporting practice
which is related to nature of the city itself.
Traditional festivities and festivals are often taking place together with the boat races, just like in the past times when the race was an occasion for celebrating the
glory of the Venetian State.
THE HISTORICAL REGATTA
First Sunday of September
The most important boat race in Venice is the so called Historical Regatta.
The event is one of the grandest ceremonies we still celebrate every
year on the first Sunday of September.
The Feast celebrates a very important historical event which took place back in the 15 th century.
The Republic of Venice arranged in fact the marriage of the beautiful
14 year-old Caterina Corner to King James of Cyprus.
Caterina was formally adopted as daughter of the Republic and then shipped to Cyprus.
When James died about a year later (how strange!), the Republic decided that
this beloved daughter had better abdicate in favour of her adopted mother,
the Republic. In October 1488 in fact Cyprus was formally incorporated
in the Venetian Sea-State and its Queen shipped back to Venice.
The doge even sailed out in his state barge to greet her. A stately procession
up the Grand Canal then followed: a memento of all the pomp and pageantry
the Venetians loved so much.
Even now the Regata Storica is one of the most spectacular, picturesque and moving
events of Venetian life, capable of both charming the tourists and exciting the