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.
Festa della Sensa
In the old days, this event celebrated in Ascension Day (40 days after Easter) was the greatest happening in Venice.
Originally two historical moments were celebrated: the rescue of the Dalmatian people under Slavic rule in the year 1000 and the 1117 Peace Treaty that put an end to the conflict between the papacy and the Holy Roman Empire.
Today, Sensa still takes place to commemorate the union of the city and the sea. Civil and religious authorities navigate from St. Mark’s Square to S. Nicolò’s port in a spectacular boat parade.
Festa del Redentore
The third weekend of July is reserved for another moment of historical relevance: the tribute to plague victims in 1576 which motivated the construction of Il Redentore Church.
On Saturday venetians decorate their houses and gondolas, while at sunset boats filled with people gather near the St. Mark’s Basilica area. And at night, a great firework completes the show. Sunday is dedicated to religious celebrations.
The regata season begins in April, but the boats make their most pompous appearance in the first week of September.
This is a 19th Century style coloured procession of gondolas and gondoliers that recaptures Venice's glorious past as a maritime republic — creating an unforgettable effect.
After the parade comes the racing sport, practised in Venice since at least 1315. A competition called Campioni su Gondolini, when small gondolas “fly” through the canals, is the most popular.
Every two years, the Biennale assembles at the Giardini gardens and receives work from artists all over the world.
In 1895, it started as a fair dedicated to the italian market only. In the following century it became an international centre for new tendencies, featuring plastic arts, cinema, theater, dance, music and architecture.
Venice Film Festival
Currently integrated in the Biennale, this is an occasion apart from all others and takes place every year. If the French have their Palm d’Or in Cannes, the Italians take pride in the prestigious Leone d’Oro in Venice.
It’s one of the most important festivals of its kind and also the oldest — the first edition took place in 1932. Rising relevance in recent decades has contributed to the association with big international movie stars.
The lovely Lido island receives the event, with viewing sessions in the historical Palazzo del Cinema and other theaters around.
Join the celebrations!