Addio Carnevale.

maschera.jpgI attended my first Carnevale in 1996, and was amazed to see a city decorated with the most imaginatively-costumed participants; they roamed the frigid streets by day, posing for photos for anyone with a camera, and seeking refuge and cioccolato caldo inside the Florian, or any 18th-century throwback in the vicinity if they couldn’t abide waiting in line. They reveled by night, sweeping across the Piazza facendo il loro effetto, creating impromptu musicales, and attending celebratory dinners and masked balls (of varying degrees of decadence) in luminous palazzi. “They work all year on their costumes,” said one Carnevale aficionado, and it showed. Even wandering the streets in your own, more modest mask or costume, it didn’t take much imagination to get the feel of what delirious Venice must have been like in centuries past.

Like so many things these days, Carnevale’s just not the same. The famous and otherwise well-endowed rent stupendous costumes to wear to prestigious, expensive, commercialized balls. We donned our own fanciful costumes, rather impressed with ourselves, but found we were in the distinct minority in giro, it was only when we attended some party or other that we found ourselves once again in the company of fantastic strangers. We missed the old days (except for the cold).

In any case, it’s tranquil city the day after martedì grasso and the end of the festivities, and Venice has another year to decide what sort of party it will throw l’anno prossimo. I do hope more folks opt for going incognito. It’s what makes Carnevale, Carnevale…isn’t it?

4 thoughts on “Addio Carnevale.

  1. marisa

    Like things past, I’m sure today’s Carnivale has lost the true reason for the “party”—how many of the costumed revellers were out sporting “ashes” on Wednesday? I would bet, not too many–they were busy hopping on planes, trains or automobiles. But like everything, the tourist dollar rules.

    Me? I like Venice during Lent–the Columbas will be warm and fresh. The people looking forward to Easter and finishing their lenten fast.

    Can’t wait to be there.

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  2. nan

    Truth be told, I’m not sure Venice’s Carnevale ever had much to do with Lent…especially when you consider past Carnevale periods could last for months. Going out in style in a way, I suppose; I don’t think we’dve expected anything less of La Serenissima…

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  3. Andrew

    We’ve been coming to Venice since 1988 when we attended our first carnival. It has changed. I looked on the Piazza San Marco webcam on Monday at about 6pm. The placed looked relatively deserted. In the past it was packed from the Friday to Shrove Tuesday. The Buongiorno Venezia newsletter says that there has been a huge drop in numbers attending. I wonder why?

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  4. Gaia

    Unfortunately when Venetians stopped to love the Carnival it starts a long agony.
    30 years ago all the Venetians wear a costum, then just tourists, then no-one.

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