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The tradition of masking has a long tradition in Venice. All the way back in , a law even was passed to ban—of all things—putting on masks and throwing perfumed eggs! By the time of the Renaissance, masks were a fixture of Carnevale celebrations. Believe it or not, though, masking was hardly just a Carnival tradition. By the 18th century, Venetians were allowed to wear masks for six months a year. And they took advantage! Not quite. With the Austrian conquest of Venice in , mask-wearing—as well as Carnevale—were all but finished.

In the s, Mussolini banned the celebrations altogether. So what changed? In , a group of Venetian artisans banned together to restart Carnevale. If that seems like a ploy for tourism, it was—and it was one that worked. Today, about 3 million people travel to Venice every year for Carnevale. The s are also when the long-forgotten art of mask-making was restarted.

Commedia dell’arte masks

Today, Carnevale in Venice is a huge celebration that goes on for two weeks. While many events—particularly the opulent masquerade balls—require invitations and have steep ticket prices, many others, like the candle-lit parade of boats, concerts, and street performances, are free and open to the public. You can see a complete program for the Venetian Carnevale here. Gorgeous costumes abound during Carnevale in Venice!


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Of course—at least when it comes to those Venetian masks! Just be aware that the majority of mask shops in Venice sell cheap, imported masks, a far cry from the artisanal tradition that Venetian mask-making truly is. So do yourself, and the artisans of Venice, a favor, and choose your mask shop carefully.

Need help? Here are some of our favorite mask shops in Venice several of which even run mask-making workshops; check their websites for more!

History of the Venice Carnival Mask - Luxe Adventure Traveler

Address: S. Croce Address: Castello Maybe I should make an early booking next year. I wanna travel to Italy and witness this kind of event, looks fun. I think that visiting Venice during the carnival period is the best choice that a tourist could do. Hi my name is Monica i am planning to come to Venice in feb …Can you please confirm if the carnavale is in February 7 true the 28th?

Ciao Monica, Carnevale will be taking place on Sunday February 15th, They can be full-face masks e. Near the end of the Republic, the wearing of masks in daily life was severely restricted. By the 18th century, it was limited only to about three months from December The masks were traditionally worn with decorative beads matching in colour. The mask has a square jaw line often pointed and tilted upwards to enable the wearer to talk, eat and drink easily without having to remove the mask thereby preserving their anonymity. The Bauta was often accompanied by a red cape and a tricorn.

In 18th century, the Bauta had become a standardized society mask and disguise regulated by the Venetian government. Only citizens had the right to use the Bauta. Its role was similar to the anonymizing processes invented to guarantee general, direct, free, equal and secret ballots in modern democracies. It was not allowed to wear weapons along with the mask, and police had the right to enforce.

The Columbina also known as Columbine and Columbino is a half mask often highly decorated with gold, silver, crystals and feathers. It is held up to the face by a baton or tied with ribbon as with most other Venetian masks. The columbine was popularised by an early actress in the Commedia dell'arte of the same name. It is said it was designed for her because she did not wish to have her beautiful face covered completely. A "plague doctor" mask.

The Medico Della Peste with its long beak is one of the most bizarre and recognisable of the Venetian masks. The striking design has a macabre history originating from 17th century French physician Charles de Lorme who adopted the mask together with other sanitary precautions while treating plague victims The mask is white consisting of a hollow beak and round eye holes covered with crystal discs creating a bespectacled effect.

Today, the masks are often more decorative. The doctors who followed de Lorme's example wore the usual black hat and long black cloak as well as the mask, white gloves and a stick to move patients without having to come into physical contact. They hoped these precautions would prevent them contracting the disease. Those who wear the 'plague doctor' mask often wear the associated clothing of the beak doctor costume. The popularity of the Medico della Peste among carnivale celebrants can be seen as a memento mori.

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The Mascherade

Popular in Venice as it brought out the beauty of feminine features such as the female head, body and mind. The mask was held in place by the wearer biting on a button or bit and was finished off with a veil.


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Servetta Muta translates as 'mute maid servant'.