Tag Archives: Venetian heritage

The Best Moments of Venetian Carnival

Colorful, grandiose, and one-of-a-kind Venetian Carnival of 2017 is over. Let’s remember the most important moments of this celebration of Venice’s beauty, tradition, and history that brings millions of people to Venice every year.

Boat Parade during Venice Carnival

The grand carnival opening ceremony started with Venetian Festival (Festa Veneziana), which took place on the banks of one of the most picturesque Venetian neighborhoods -Cannaregio. This was a magnificent evening show of unique floating structures with music, dancing, local food specialties, and lots of positive emotions. The canal banks were lined with people watching the amazing floats go by and trying local Venetian gastronomic specialties. Festa Veneziana continued on the second day of the Carnival in a typical Venetian fashion with a very impressive boat parade along the Grand Canal. Apart from watching richly decorated gilded boats and even brighter costumes of the boats’ passengers all the guests were treated to wine, the best creations of Venetian and Italian cuisine, and of course various entertainment.

Murano Glass Hearts for Valentine's day

Lido in Love was an event dedicated to Valentine’s Day on February 14th. The island’s main square Gran Viale was decorated for the occasion with thousands of red balloons in the shape of a heart. This special event during the Carnival took place at the Love Market in Piazzala Santan Maria Elisabetta. Special booths with Carnival props such as masks and costumes were set up at the square for adventurous couples to take selfies. The Venetian couple masks parade later in the day brought the true carnival spirit to this celebration of love and romance for those lucky enough to celebrate St. Valentine’s in Venice – the most romantic place in the world.

Venice Carnival Crowds on Piazza San Marco in Venice

Another big event was traditional “Festa delle Marie” dedicated to freeing of beautiful Venetian girls from the pirates. The history of this celebration is obscure and mired in legend but most sources point to the fact that starting some time in the ninth century Venice had a custom of celebrating the catholic day of purification of Mary, February 2nd, by selecting 12 of the poorest girls whose weddings were scheduled for that year and providing them with princely wedding celebrations. Sponsored by the church, this tradition involved dressing the girls into expensive clothes as well as giving them rich dowry along with throwing grand celebrations with the doge. Once around year 943 during such an occasion pirates broke into the church of San Pietro di Castello and kidnapped the girls along with their rich dowry and gifts right before the eyes of shocked Venetians. The Venetian fleet headed by the Doge himself quickly organized the pursuit, caught the pirates, retrieved all the stolen articles, saved the women, and threw the pirates overboard. To commemorate this occasion the Doge instituted the official annual Festa delle Marie, or Feast of the Mary’s. The feast involved finding and choosing 12 most beautiful girls among the poorest inhabitants of Venice, 2 from each Sestiere, and naming each of them Mary. Nobility was invited to sponsor this event and provide girls with beautiful clothing and fine gifts. A boat parade along Venice’s canals was held to celebrate the Feast, special religious cervices were held in churches across the city, and fun celebrations with food and music were organized for Venetians. The celebrations went on for several days, and the occasion was one of the most eagerly awaited, lavish, and expensive celebrations in Venice. Eventually in 1379 Festa delle Marie ceased to exist due to rowdy behavior during the party and inappropriateness of the nature of the celebrations to the solemn spirit of the day of the purification of Mary.

The celebration was reborn in 1999 and became one of the key events of annual Venetian Carnival. Modern-day Festa delle Marie involves the procession of twelve young and beautiful girls selected in advance of the Carnival, surrounded by others in historical costume, which parades from San Pietro di Castello to Piazza San Marco. Eagerly viewers gather on Piazza San Marco to see the introduction of Marie, which concludes the celebration. This girl, the winner of the competition of Mary’s then becomes the “angel” to take the flight of the angel during the next year’s carnivale.

San Marco Campanile in Venice

On Piazza San Marco on February 19th carnival aficionados could witness the traditional “Flight Of An Angel”. The role of the angel was awarded to Claudia Marchiori, the Marie of 2016. The “Flight of the Angel” goes back to the historical Venetian tradition when an incognito guest of Venice would descent on a rope from the Campanile of San Marco down to the piazza, offering homage to the Doge. The angel is always the winner of the previous year’s Festa delle Marie. The winner of the 2017 Festa, Elisa Costantini, will become the Angel for the Carnival 2018.

Masked and Costumed Revelers at Venice Carnival

The beating heart of Venice, Piazza San Marco, became the center of yet another important event of the Venetian Carnival – the Competition for the Best Carnival Costume. The competition judges announced the winners in two categories: the best costume and the best mask. Anybody can take part, all you need to do is just file and submit a special form, deck out in a fabulous carnival costume and show up for the contest. You will then be given a change to walk on stage showing off your costume, but be prepared for the tough fight if you wish to win. The participants costumes are extremely elaborate, featuring gorgeous detail and decorations, complete with plumage, furs, wigs, elaborate hats, and of course gorgeous masks.

It is hard to imagine more grandiose and amazing celebration than Venetian Carnival. It is a mix of the old and the new, born from unique Venetian traditions with roots deep in the centuries past, a mix of romance and adventure, which attracts people of all ages and walks of life. If you never visited this celebration of life, history, and beauty we highly recommend putting it on your bucket list and experiencing these events first-hand.


Five Famous Venetians And How They Changed The World

Venice was founded as a refuge for members of society that fled various invasions occurring in Italy many centuries ago. Because Venice eventually became a republic, which was freer and more liberal than all other European states of the day, it attracted talent from far and wide and became a birthplace of many prominent people in the spheres ranging from arts to sciences to commerce and politics.

Below, we tell stories of five notable Venetians, who made great contribution to the society and influenced the course of the modern world. However, throughout the generations Venice continued to produce incredible entrepreneurs and artists- so this list is just a taste of what Venice had and has to offer to the world.

Antonio Vivaldi

Vivaldi Concert in Venice

Antonio Vivaldi is without a doubt one of the most influential baroque musicians. He was born in Venice in 1678, and was baptized almost immediately. Many historians note the significance of this event, because it suggests that Vivaldi was set to lead a life heavily influenced by Catholicism.

Vivaldi’s father was a budding violinist, who taught his son to play, and subsequently brought him on a musical tour of the Venetian lagoon. Although Vivaldi was ordained as a priest, and dedicated much of his time to the church, his passion for music was longstanding. A brilliant violinist and a talented composer, Vivaldi lived in Venice his entire life, although he found much success in other European countries too. While he remained a well known figure throughout his life, after his death, he fell into relative obscurity and fame eluded him.

It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that historians uncovered a large body of his work, and reintroduced him to society. This Venetian musician, best known for composing the “Four Seasons”, is now played not only all over Venice but also in the best concert halls of the world, and is considered one of the greatest composers of all times. He is a large part of Venetian artistic heritage and his influence on European and world culture is undisputed.

Marco Polo

Travels Of Marco Polo from Venice

Marco Polo is a household name, known by most throughout modern society as a noted adventurer. However, a lesser known fact is that he was born and raised in Venice. This merchant traveler followed in the footsteps of his father and uncle who traveled to Asia previously. Accompanied by his experienced relatives he traded extensively abroad and eventually spent 24 years in Asia, including in the court of a Mongolian khan. When Marco returned to Venice he found it at war with Genoa and promptly joined the war. Marco Polo was soon captured by the Genoese and put in jail, where he dictated the accounts of his travels to a cellmate. Thanks to this unfortunate course of events we now have a book called “Book of The Marvels of the World”, where Marco Polo’s memories have been kept alive for generations since about 1300.

Marco Polo embodied the qualities that Venetians always held dear and that modern society values as well: boldness, achievement, curiosity, and pragmatism. Upon his return he brought to Venice and indeed to Europe knowledge of previously-unheard-of things such as existence of paper money and getting energy from burning coal. It is also widely believed that his explorations of China and central Asia led to the introduction of pasta to Italy, which was inspired by the ancient art of noodle making in China. The book has since inspired many generations of explorers and travelers and had great effect on the formation of European culture and values. One prominent example was the influence Marco Polo’s book had on Christopher Columbus. Columbus was so inspired by Marco Polo’s works, that he later chose to set sail and explore the world himself.

Carlo Goldoni

house of carlo goldoni in venice

Carlo Goldoni was the William Shakespeare of Venice, a figure well-known and respected at home and subsequently worldwide. Goldoni was a prominent Venetian playwright that penned plays performed to this day. Goldoni was born in Venice in the early 1700’s, but was relocated to Rimini as a young child, where he was cared for by a famous philosopher.

However, Goldoni’s true love of Venice made hime run away as a young boy- and return to the Lagoon city. Carlo Goldoni would later enroll in school, where he was exposed to Greek and Latin comedies- an experience which perhaps set the tone for his later works.

Comedies were integral to Goldoni’s work, and his time spent in Italian theater would later prove revolutionary to the evolution of European theater. Goldoni moved Italian plays away from their rigid style and forced humor, and worked to incorporate reality into the plays- through depictions of everyday events and experiences. He is widely viewed as a theatrical genius who set the tone for modern theater, and a very important Venetian figure.

Giacomo Casanova

House Of Casanova In Venice

While controversial and scandalous, Giacomo Casanova is one of the best-known Venetians enjoying worldwide fame centuries after his death. He was a celebrity of sorts in his day, well-known for his amorous adventures and adventurist lifestyle, and his lasting influence on the image of Venice is undeniable. Casanova was born in 1725 in a family of Venetian theater actors, and studied in the university of Padova demonstrating quick wit and curiosity leading to great academic results. Although he graduated with a coveted legal degree and was able to enter high ranks of Venetian society, Casanova’s passion for gambling and for women led to a series of scandals and culminated in his two exiles from Venice and to a serious prison sentence. At odds with the government, church, and mainstream society, this famous adventurer perfectly embodied the revolutionary spirit of the Venetian Lagoon.

Casanova was also a popular author, who wrote autobiographical works describing his famous escape from the Palace of Doge’s prison and recounting his amorous adventures. His books are used today as a form of sociological insight into 18th century Venice. He is well known by the general public as a ladies man, hence the modern use of the term “Casanova” to indicate a flirtatious man. His many relationships with women, his tendency to gamble and his questionable professions made him fall out of favor with Venetian government and society and forced him to later set roots in France.

Casanova is noted for being more than just a regular troublemaker. Various scholars have come to the understanding that Casanova was viewed as a highly intelligent and intellectual man by his peers who questioned stringent religious dogmas and sought more open and progressive society. He also had an entrepreneurial spirit that led to his financial success later in life.


Tintoretto Venetian painter

Tintoretto’s real name was Jacopo Comin and he was born in Venice in 1518 as one of 21 children in a family of a Venetian dyer, or “tintore” in Italian. Thanks to his father’s profession the boy quickly got a nickname “Tintoretto” or “little dyer” which stuck with him for life. Exhibiting rare talent from an early age, Tintoretto was sent to Titian’s studio to learn from the master. However, his relationship was Titian did not work out and the boy was sent home after only 10 days of study. Modern researchers recon that Titian, then a great established master, saw independence and spirituality in Tintoretto’s works and realized that he could not be a proper obedient student in his studio. Tales of jealousy of the old master to the boy’s talent are also abound. Despite this not-so-great start in Titian’s workshop, Tintoretto went on to develop his own unique manner and style and become one of the greatest Italian renaissance painters dubbed “Il Furioso” or “The Furious”. This nickname was acquired as a result of the amount of passion and energy he put into his work, which remained consistent throughout the entirety of his career.

Tintoretto is best known for his paintings that still hang as they did centuries ago in the churches and famous public buildings in Venice, including the Doge’s Palace. His large, sometimes monumental paintings feature realistic images, gorgeously built people, unusual perspectives, and Venetian themes.

Venice: Inspiration For Artists and Adventurers

Canal In Venice Italy

Venice was created through the persistence and perseverance of people and emerged as the only republic amid dark medieval states. This led to a burst of creative energy, curiosity, and pragmatic spirit that bore many talented artistic personalities, entrepreneurs and adventurers. If you visit, or have visited Venice, then it’s not difficult to understand how the city’s free spirit, romantic atmosphere, and natural beauty inspired so many works of art and led to its prominent role in Europe and beyond. Venice is a work of art in itself, and a stunning example of how an environment can truly influence and inspire people to create, persevere, and prosper.