‘Carnevale di Venezia’ – My Italian Mardi Gras

By on February 24, 2010

Associate Arts & Entertainment Editor Daniella Appolonia reports from her Study Abroad tour in Italy this semester.

Parades, food, masks and costumes proved to be extravagant at recent traditional celebrations in Venice, Italy. Thousands of native Italians and tourists immersed themselves in the culture of the annual “Carnevale di Venezia.” The theme of the carnival was sensation—to experience the city and the culture through sight, sound, taste, touch and smell.

Photo credit: Daniella Appolonia

The festivities began on Feb. 6 and continued until Feb. 16. People were packed like sardines in the streets and on the bridges connecting this historic and beautiful city built on water. Glittered masks, ball gowns, and plenty of confetti could be seen from miles away.

While exciting for the many tourists who attended the festival, this 10-day long party is nothing new for the locals. Despite its history dating back to the 13th century as an event falling near the time of Lent, Carnevale di Venezia proved to be more a celebration for the tourists who frequent its packed piazzas, rather than the locals. Nevertheless, people of all ages engage in the excitement of the events, enjoying the breathtaking views of the architecture, the surrounding waters, and the beauty of the city itself.

People walked down the streets in costumes playing instruments, walking on stilts, and entertaining the crowds. Markets and tents filled the streets, with vendors selling all things imaginable, from pastries and glass-blown figurines to gelato and of course, plenty of masquerade masks. Children dressed in what appeared to be Halloween costumes, while many adults took their outfits incredibly seriously, dressing in proper clothing from the Romantic period. Many happily posed for minutes at a time while tourists flocked to their side to take photos and make small talk.

Photo credit: Daniella Appolonia

Students visiting displayed their creativity, dressed as the characters from “Avatar” or “Lego” figurines. The city had a friendly air surrounding it, as friends old and new enjoyed this giant party. One night, people even gathered in a small square to sing along with a costumed and wig-clad group of men imitating the Beatles. Cardboard electric guitars and drum sets only added to the humor and fun.

Venice will surely be much quieter now that the tourists and the excitement have dispersed. However, there will be even more to see next year surrounding the museums, delicious food, and enchanting music.

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