In 1797, Napoleon conquered the “Sereníssima” Republic of Venice. Outraged with the excesses, he banned the Carnival and other festivities. In the 20th Century, Mussolini did the same. This city must really love partying!
Only over the last decades has Venice recovered its old statute with the revival of the traditions. Now with the added prestige of contemporary art.
Aside from the brazilian version, the Carnival of St. Mark’s Square is the most famous in the world. Without the past wildness, but still a bit of hedonism and lots of theatrical pose. It lasts for about ten days on the period that antecipates Easter.
Masks are unequivocal stars. Millions arrive every year in Venice to attend the Festa delle Marie, a parade of disguises inspired by renaissance and baroque art. The highest point is the extravagant Gran Ballo delle Maschere, in one of the city’s many palaces. Anyone with a proper mask may participate!
Even if you don’t fly to Venice during Carnival, you can always get a typicall venetian mask — several stores sell them.