Ornate Venetian masks

One thing striking about Venice during the Carnevale (Carnival of Venice) was the sales of ornate Venetian masks in most shops and carts.

It’s been said that Venetian masks are a centuries-old tradition of Venice, Italy and they are typically worn extensively during the Carnevale.  In the past, it’s use was probably used as a device for concealing the wearer’s identity and social status.

Venetian masks are characterised by their ornate design, featuring bright colours such as gold or silver and the use of complex decorations in the baroque style. Many designs of Venetian masks stem from Commedia dell’arte. They can be full-face masks (e.g. the bauta) or eye masks (e.g. the Columbina).

Be warned, if you intend to get the full-face mask (the buata), eating and drinking will prove to be rather challenging as you may find yourself tilting the mask ever-so-slightly for the duration of your meal trying to steal a sip from your drink or bite of food from the plate.

We delved straight into shopping of our masks for the Cavalchina Grand Ball upon our arrival.  Having to make a decision as to which mask to get was simply too difficult because they were all so pretty.  The next day, I spied even lovelier and ornate masks decorated with lace and Swarovski crystals that I wished I had gotten.  These ornate masks cost a little more than usual because they are unique creations from specialised Mask Ateliers.  A lady’s Columbina made of paper mache and decorated with lace plus crystals could start from about EUR 4o and the price goes up for a more elaborate design.

The masks comes in all different shapes and sizes.  If you do not fancy putting them on, you could always get one to place it on your wall as a piece of decor at home.

And if creativity is one of your talents, then I’d say get a plain mask and try your hand at designing your very own and original Venetian mask.  Plain white masks are a lot more affordable and the cheapest I’ve seen so far is EUR 1.99.

And it’s not all that boring for there are plenty of styles you could choose from, all you need to do is to add some colour to the plain white mask and viola!  You can be assured that no one at the Carnevale would be wearing the same mask as you.  🙂

And, just what we will be doing with the masks that we got for the ball?  Guess we’ll be displaying this in our glass cabinet when we return back to Singapore.  Makes for a great conversation starter should you come visit our home.

Lastly, if you’re ever making your way to Venice to attend the Carnevale de Venezia in future, here are 2 Costume and Masks Ateliers that are worth checking out:

Ca’ del Sol
Address: Castello, 4964, 30122 Venezia, Italy
Address: San Marco 267, 30124 Venezia, Italy

Elaborate costumes at the Carnival of Venice

The Carnival of Venice (Carnevale di Venezia) is an annual festival, held in Venice, Italy.  The Carnival starts 58 days before Easter and ends on Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday or Martedì Grasso), the day before Ash Wednesday.

The seemingly serene and quaint Venice seem to come alive with the endless buzzing activity during this time as people decked out in traditional Venetian costumes and covered with beautifully decorated masks roamed along the streets of Venice.  Despite the cold spell hitting most of Europe during this period, festivities for the Carnival continued with all the merry-making.

It was my first visit to Venice but the Man who had been to Venice many years back said what a world of difference Venice is during the Carnival.

Just look at the sea of people captured in this shot.  It’s said that about 3,000,000 people visit Venice each day for the Carnival.  3 million?!  Whoa!!  Didn’t really help that we were in Venice on the last weekend of the Carnival so there were naturally more curious people (like us) wanting to soak in the Carnival atmosphere.

It also felt like the paparazzi turned up in full force.  If you happen to be in costume and walking around the streets, it’s your moment to be a star for people will be merrily snapping your shots.  Also, don’t be alarmed if you have strangers coming up to you and wanting to take a photo with you.  Just put on your best smile behind that painted face.  🙂

As for me, I definitely played the role of the paparazzi during the Carnival pretty well stopping at every possible chance I could to take photos of these amazing costumes.  So, are you ready to feast your eyes on these gorgeous and elaborate costumes?

Lady in gold definitely did a wonderful job of posing for the cameras.  Love her graceful hand gestures.

The duo that came as Angel and Demon.  Do you see someone trying to sneak in the picture? ;p

I classify the above lot of costumes as somewhat the darker costumes.  A little scary but definitely the lot that commanded a sense of presence as they weaved in and out of the mad crowds on the streets.

Don’t be fooled by the demure or macho exterior of the outfit for sometimes what lies beneath may just be a man instead of a woman and vice versa.  We saw many feminine costumes being donned by men.  I think they are just game enough to be putting on a frock for this big festival.

And I really loved these whimsical lot of costumes, thought they were fun and a cheery lot!

Well, I hope you enjoyed the visual treat of costumes that I took during the Carnevale di Venezia.  Being in Venice during the Carnevale di Venezia definitely was memorable and a fitting way to end my love affair with all things Italian before we pack our bags and head back to Singapore.