The Carnival of Venice, origins and traditions

The Carnival of Venice is a “classic” of carnival events in Italy. It is also the oldest carnival in Italy, one of the most famous and famous in the world. The Carnival of the Lagoon, in fact, is particularly renowned for its beauty and elegance, and is distinguished by the theme that characterizes each edition.

In each of the many events, masks and costumes are the element that dominates the scene, well representing what, over the centuries, constitutes a true cultural heritage, which has its roots in the elegance of Venetian culture, and is characterized by the tendency to hide the identity, sex and social class of its participants.


The Carnival of Venice, the History

The first written references to the Carnival of Venice appear in some documents dating back to the year 1000. We know that this Feast was an occasion, lasting two months altogether, granted to the people to forget the difficult conditions in everyday life, and to behave in a more free way, overcoming the limits imposed by social class.

This “concession” became a real institution, which completely replaced the tradition of similar pagan festivals. And it is thanks to this approach that the Venetian Carnival has become, par excellence, the moment when it is possible to play on one’s own identity and bypass the rigid social conventions of the time. A world finally free, and a way of living and celebrating under the banner of “madness” and “libertinaggio” that is found in the pages of the diaries of Giacomo Casanova.

Fonte: Somewhere Tour

To give an idea of the lawlessness and chaos of the Carnival on the Lagoon there are laws enacted by the city government, aimed at preventing the Festival could turn into an excellent opportunity offered to the most dangerous criminals. For this reason, for example, it was forbidden to enter masked inside convents or carry weapons under costumes.

A dimension that, over time, has been getting lost, giving way to a splendid event in which triumphs the elegance and charm of incredible costumes, worn in parades that have one of the most beautiful and fascinating cities in the world.

Masks and clothes

Masks and clothes are a distinctive heritage of the Venice Carnival, and boast ancient traditions. In the ‘400, in fact, the artisans who made masks had their own statutes and were called mascherie.

Among the most ancient and known masks is la Baùta. It is a particularly simple mask, covering only the eyes and half of the face, and therefore particularly suitable for talking, eating and drinking. Even today, the Baùta is associated with a cloak – the tabarro – and a black tricorn that runs over the head over the mantle.

Fonte: Avec Marisol

The Moretta, on the other hand, is the disguise of women, and includes a small oval mask, made of velvet, which is held with the mouth thanks to a small button, and is associated with a cap and a dress with refined veils. Its characteristic is that of being a “mute” mask, that is, it does not allow to speak, thus maintaining a total anonymity.

Fonte: Ca’ Macana

The Gnaga, instead, is the mask that men used to disguise themselves as women. In fact, it had the appearance of a cat, and was worn on peasant clothes and with a basket containing a kitten.

Fonte: Ca’ Macana


That of Harlequin is probably the oldest Italian carnival mask. Although originally from Bergamo, Arlecchino became the Venetian mask par excellence, thanks also to the contribution of the playwright Carlo Goldoni, who put it at the center of his comed Harlequin servant of two masters. The character of Harlequin is represented by the figure of a clever and cunning servant, whose abilities in some cases even become “diabolical”. Its name, however, comes from the Germanic root Holle Konig – or King of Hell – transformed into Helleking and then Harlequin. Before Goldoni, however, Arlecchino made his appearance in the Commedia dell’Arte with the actor of Bergamo origin Alberto Naselli – known by the public as Zan Ganassa, and then triumphed in the ‘600 with Tristano Martinelli.

Fonte: Donna Glamour

The edition of the Carnival of Venice preserves many moments and aspects of the oldest event. Among these the games of light and the shows on the water, the parades of gondolas and costumes, and the distribution of fritole e galani, traditional sweets. In addition, the Festa delle Marie, a Venetian custom to equip the most beautiful and poorest girls with jewels and sumptuous dresses, to wear on their wedding day.

Then there is the so-called Flight of the Angel, in St Mark’s Square, which sees the Mary winner of the previous edition flying over the crowd descending from the campanile of San Marco, and the Contest of the most beautiful mask.

Venice: itinerary through history

  • RIALTO BRIDGE AND TURN TO THE SEABED. In the Rialto area, of course you can not miss the view that you can enjoy from the bridge, on which you will climb after a ride to the always characteristic fish market.
Fonte: MeetingVenice
  • ST MARK’S SQUARE AND THE DUCAL PALACE. Piazza San Marco, with its imposing basilica, and the Doge’s Palace, where we highly recommend you enter, with its museum full of Venetian history.
Fonte: MarcoPolo TV
  • LIBRARY ACQUA ALTA. With its literally submerged space of books, various memorabilia and souvenirs, its enchanted back and…a lot of cats!
Fonte: ViaggiNews
  • TEATRO LA FENICE. Main opera house of Venice, as well as one of the most prestigious in the world, definitely deserves a visit, even from outside. 
Fonte: Teatro la Fenice

Venice, A dip in culinary art

In the Venetian tradition i typical dishes are par excellence risotto. The most famous recipe is definitely risi e bisi, a risotto with peas, typically spring vegetables, cooked with dried onion. The plate is finished with salt, pepper and parsley.

Fonte: Simply Recipes

The highlight of typical Venetian cuisine, however, as far as desserts are concerned are biscuits. There are all kinds, derived from various flours. There are baicoli dry biscuits, perfect with coffee and eggnog. Zaeti, literally “gialletti“, are dry biscuits made from a flour as poor as corn, but enriched with raisins and lemon peel. The classic cookies prepared by grandmothers with poor, but genuine ingredients.

Fonte: GialloZafferano

Cover Image: Unahotels Ala Venezia

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