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Venetian Carnival

At long last I managed to visit Venice during the carnival. I always wanted to see the centuries old tradition of wearing masks and parading the streets in the most imaginative dresses from the past. This very old tradition, forbidden for many centuries, and partially forgotten, thankfully was revived in the early ’80s by the Venetian architecture students. Since then it is the most well known festival celebrated in the whole world. I have arrived on a very cold and wet day and was worried that taking the camera out of the bag will be a struggle, not to mention, taking any photos at all. I was however worried unnecessarily, as on the very morning of the “Flight of the Angel”, a show signalling the opening of the carnival, the weather suddenly changed for the better. The masked crowd venturing from the gathering point at St. Mark’s Square to all the magnificent streets and squares of Venice is simply breath taking. The waves of colour and costumes, the jousts and mock military tournaments entertained me for days and left wide-eyed. Despite the glaring sun, the people wearing the masks and very heavy outfits showed an incredible patience by posing to hundreds of photographers and tourists. The imaginative ornate design and painting of the masks make them truly unique and I have not yet seen the same mask worn by two people. The whole tradition of masking started in the 13th century and was a convenient form of hiding the wearer’s identity; the idea, as you can guess, was for some romantic, illicit or even criminal purposes. Of all the masks, possibly the traditional baroque style golden and silver masks were the most difficult to photograph due to the reflections in a rather strong sunlight. I have missed two events, the Grand Masked Ball and the procession of decorated boats and gondolas, but who knows, perhaps I will visit Venice next year?

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