Be transported to 18th century Italy as Venetians and tourists put on their most elaborate masks and costumes to celebrate the Carnavale di Venezia.

The origin of the Carnavale di Venezia or Venice Carnival dates back to the early 12th century, but its popularity peaked during the 18th century. The carnival was meant to be a way for people to indulge themselves with alcohol and food in celebrations and parties before Lent. They would wear masks to conceal their identities, blurring the lines between the aristocrats and common folk, thus encouraging clandestine affairs and other illicit activities.

Today, Venetians still celebrate the carnival as a means of indulgence, but it also holds a myriad of events like parades, street performances, and contests and encourages people to wear costumes and masks to highlight the culture and history of Venice.

Masks and costumes today are more sophisticated than its predecessors. They are meticulously hand-painted, adorned with gems, and embellished with glitters and feathers.

Carnival-goers would sometimes wear lavish and ornate Venetian costumes. Some of them would do it because they’re part of the parades, an attendee of the masquerade balls, or just for fun! You don’t have to spend a hundred or thousands of Euros on costumes, though. You can simply buy a mask among the many shops and stands selling them.

Other than these beautiful masks and costumes, the carnival hosts a ton of events that will leave you in awe. Starting off the carnival is the ‘Festa delle Marie’, a traditional celebration rejoicing the return of the 12 kidnapped brides to the city. The 12 women or the 12 Marias sitting on sedans are paraded through San Pietro di Castello to St. Mark’s Square.

Another must-see event is the ‘Flight of the Angel’. Like the ‘Festa delle Marie’, it comes from an old tradition. Today, a woman, dressed in traditional Venetian fashion, descends from St. Mark’s Tower to the crowd-filled center of Piazza San Marco.

Parades at the Grand Canal and the Cannaregio are also great tourist attractions that you shouldn’t miss! Many people gather around the canal as they wait for the colorful parade, then the party continues at night as the parade returns to the canals, awing the anticipating crowd with beautifully designed floats and daring performances.

Don’t miss out on this vibrant street carnival at one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world!

Photo credit: venice_carnival_official, desertchilds, vida.amarilla_, detourismvenezia, & cooladventurers