Up until this year I had never been to Venice. It’s only about two hours from where we live, so when Marco wanted to join a family friend to go take pictures of le maschere at the Carnival of Venice, I went along. While maschere literally means “masks”, in this case it means the whole character one portrays when putting on the costume. And I had no idea to which length people go to do this! I kind of thought that you would see the full-fledged costumes and Venetian carnival masks only during official parades. Or maybe evening balls. But boy, was I wrong. Regular people from all over the world come to Venice during carnival season and flaunt their incredible costumes. Just for fun. To walk around Venice during the day and have people take pictures of them. Many have websites and Facebook pages and ask the more professional photographers to submit pictures back to them. There are apparently regulars who come back every year to strike poses in front of the beautiful buildings and fountains and piazzas and bridges of Venice. Most of the official celebrations happen on opening and closing weekend. We went during the week, but there was still so much to see! In fact, unless you want absolute crazy masses of people, going during the week might actually be your best bet. Talking about suggestions…
We went by train and that worked out perfectly fine. The main train station is called Santa Lucia and from there you can either continue on foot or take a water taxi to wherever you want to go. I think if we go to Venice again, I would actually go by car and park it out in Mestre, the last big train station right before Venice. There are a lot of big parking garages where you can park your car and then take the train for the last bit to Santa Lucia. Those trains run all the time and that way, you have a lot of flexibility when you want to return rather than having to focus on catching a specific train back to your city which probably only goes so often. But of course that only makes sense if you live reasonably close to start out with.
Venetian Carnival Masks
So, where are all of the people in their fancy costumes and masks hiding? Well, they’re not hiding. They are everywhere from Santa Lucia to Saint Mark’s Square and beyond. Many times, there are whole groups of people in costume going from one beautiful backdrop to the next. Some especially elaborately dressed maschere go by themselves from church to piazza to bridge striking poses every so often for the people following her. Or him. But mostly her. Most of them seem to be women. But then again… you wouldn’t know for sure. The masks many times cover the whole face and the costumes cover the whole body. You have no idea who is behind the mask – kind of creepy really… Doctor Who, anyone? Once in a while I thought I’d better not blink ;). You wouldn’t even know what nationality the costumed beauties are, because they never speak. So you can’t even guess by the language or accent. Speaking would be breaking character, so it’s frowned upon by the semi-professionals. I was told many of the regulars are French. Go figure! There were also plenty of what seemed to be tourists in more or less elaborate costumes who were much more likely to chat after letting themselves be photographed by a group of other tourists.
If you want to find out more, read here about the history of the Venetian Carnival and current happenings.
Head over to Travel Photo Thursday and check out some other posts with beautiful travel pics.
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Or want to learn Italian? Check out Babbel, another partner.
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