Uncovering the Secrets of Venice’s Iconic Venetian Carnival

Uncovering the Secrets of Venice's Iconic Venetian Carnival

Uncovering the Secrets of Venice’s Iconic Venetian Carnival

The Venice Carnival is a famous festival that takes place in the city of Venice, Italy. The carnival is held annually, typically in February, and lasts for several weeks leading up to the Christian holiday of Lent. The carnival is known for its elaborate costumes, masks, and parties, and has become a popular tourist attraction.

The history of the Venice Carnival dates back to the 11th century, when the city was known for its opulence and wealth. The carnival was originally a celebration of the victory of the Venetian Republic over the Patriarch of Aquileia, and became an annual event in the 14th century. The carnival was held every year until it was banned by the Italian government in 1797.

The carnival was revived in the 20th century, and today attracts visitors from around the world. The festival typically begins with a grand opening ceremony in St. Mark’s Square, where participants in elaborate costumes and masks gather to celebrate. Throughout the festival, there are a variety of events, including concerts, masquerade balls, and street performances.

One of the most iconic features of the Venice Carnival is the masks worn by participants. The masks were originally worn to allow people to engage in activities anonymously, but they have become a symbol of the carnival itself. Today, there are many different types of masks available, from simple designs to elaborate creations with feathers, beads, and other decorations.

Overall, the Venice Carnival is a celebration of the city’s rich cultural history and traditions. The festival offers visitors a chance to experience the unique atmosphere of Venice and participate in a centuries-old tradition.

The story of the venetian masks 

The Venetian mask is an iconic symbol of the Venice Carnival, and has a long and fascinating history. The tradition of wearing masks in Venice dates back to the 13th century, when masks were worn during the Carnival season to allow people to engage in activities anonymously. Masks were also used for various other purposes, such as to hide one’s identity when conducting business, or to protect oneself from the harsh sun.

As the Carnival became more popular in the 16th century, the use of masks became more elaborate and ornate. Masks were made from a variety of materials, including leather, papier-mâché, and silk. They were decorated with feathers, jewels, and other embellishments, and could be worn with elaborate costumes.

One of the most popular types of masks was the “bauta” mask, which covered the entire face and had a distinctive beak-like protrusion. The bauta was a versatile mask that could be worn by both men and women, and was often paired with a black cape and tricorn hat.

Another popular type of mask was the “moretta” mask, which was a small black velvet oval that covered the face and was held in place by a button held between the teeth. The moretta was typically worn by women, and was considered a symbol of elegance and sophistication.

Masks were also used in theatrical productions, and many of the most famous Venetian playwrights and actors were known for their use of masks. During the 18th century, the use of masks began to decline, and by the 19th century, they had largely fallen out of fashion.

However, in the 20th century, the Venetian mask was revived as a symbol of the city’s cultural heritage. Today, the Venice Carnival is one of the most popular festivals in the world, and the masks remain an important part of the celebration. Visitors to the Carnival can purchase masks in a wide variety of styles, from traditional designs to modern interpretations, and wear them as they take part in the festivities.

The most famous venetian masks

The Venetian Carnival is known for its elaborate and intricate masks that come in various shapes, sizes, and colors. Here are some of the most famous Venetian masks:

  1. Bauta – The Bauta mask is perhaps the most famous and recognizable Venetian mask. It covers the entire face, including the chin, and has a square jawline and a prominent nose. It is usually white or black, and can be worn by both men and women.

  2. Colombina – The Colombina is a half-mask that covers the eyes and nose, leaving the mouth and chin exposed. It is typically decorated with glitter, feathers, and other embellishments, and was traditionally worn by women.

  3. Medico della Peste – The Medico della Peste, or Plague Doctor, mask is one of the most distinctive Venetian masks. It features a long beak-like nose and round eyeholes, and was originally worn by doctors during outbreaks of the plague.

  4. Gnaga – The Gnaga mask is a playful and whimsical mask that features a pig’s nose and floppy ears. It is typically worn by men and women, and is often paired with a clown or jester costume.

  5. Volto – The Volto mask is a simple and elegant mask that covers the entire face, including the eyes, nose, and mouth. It is usually made of porcelain or papier-mâché, and is often painted in a single color, such as white or black.

  6. Zanni – The Zanni mask is a comical mask that features a long, crooked nose and exaggerated facial features. It was originally worn by servants and jesters in Venetian theater productions.

These are just a few examples of the many different types of Venetian masks that are available. Each mask has its own unique history and meaning, and adds to the festive atmosphere of the Venice Carnival.

How to make venetian masks? 

Making a Venetian mask can be a fun and creative project, and there are many different methods and materials you can use. Here are some general steps you can follow to make a basic Venetian mask:


  • Papier-mâché or plaster bandages
  • Scissors
  • Paint or markers
  • Glue
  • Embellishments such as feathers, beads, and sequins
  • Elastic or ribbon for attaching the mask


  1. Create a template for your mask by drawing the shape you want on a piece of paper. You can make the mask as simple or complex as you like, and add any decorative details you want.

  2. Cut out the mask template and trace it onto a piece of papier-mâché or plaster bandages. Cut out the mask shape from the material.

  3. Use a wet cloth or sponge to soften the papier-mâché or plaster bandages, and mold them onto your face to create a custom fit. You can also use a mannequin head or other object to shape the mask.

  4. Once the mask has dried, you can paint it with acrylic paint or markers in your desired colors and designs. You can also add texture or patterns using a sponge or brush.

  5. Glue on any embellishments, such as feathers, beads, and sequins, to create a more elaborate and decorative mask.

  6. Finally, attach elastic or ribbon to the back of the mask so you can wear it comfortably. You can also add extra decorations or trim to the edges of the mask if desired.

These are just some basic steps to create a Venetian mask, and there are many variations and techniques you can use depending on your skill level and materials. Experiment with different colors, shapes, and embellishments to create a unique and personalized mask.

The use of the masks during Casanova’s time 

Giacomo Casanova was a famous Venetian adventurer and writer who lived in the 18th century, during the height of the Venetian Carnival. Masks were an important part of the Carnival tradition, and Casanova was known for his love of elaborate and extravagant costumes and masks.

During Casanova’s time, masks were worn by people from all walks of life, from the aristocracy to the common people. The anonymity provided by the masks allowed people to mix and mingle without the social constraints of their everyday lives. This led to a certain amount of debauchery and licentiousness, and the Venetian Carnival became known as a time of indulgence and excess.

Casanova himself was a master of disguise, and often used masks to aid in his many romantic escapades. He would attend masked balls and other events in elaborate costumes and masks, using his charm and wit to woo women and escape detection.

In his memoirs, “The Story of My Life,” Casanova describes the thrill of the Carnival and the use of masks:

“At Venice we are always masquerading, and during the Carnival there are so many masked balls and suppers that there is no time for sleeping. It is a kind of fever which seizes the whole town. It is said that love has nothing to do with it, but I do not believe that; at all events, I was in love all the time I was there.”

Overall, masks played a significant role in the Venetian Carnival and in the life of Casanova. They allowed for a certain degree of anonymity and freedom, and provided a canvas for self-expression and creativity.

The doctor of the black death mask 

During the Black Death, which was a deadly pandemic that spread throughout Europe in the 14th century, there were no doctors who were specifically trained to treat the disease. However, there were some medical practitioners who offered treatments, even though their methods were largely ineffective.

One such practitioner was known as a “plague doctor.” These individuals wore distinctive clothing, which included a long, dark cloak and a mask with a long beak-like nose that was filled with herbs and spices. The idea was that the herbs and spices would help to purify the air that the doctor was breathing in.

Plague doctors would also carry a cane, which they used to examine patients without having to touch them. They would often recommend treatments such as bloodletting, which involved removing blood from the patient’s body, and applying poultices made from various herbs and animal dung to the buboes that were a hallmark symptom of the disease.

It’s important to note that the treatments offer

ed by plague doctors were largely ineffective, and many people who contracted the disease did not survive. In fact, it wasn’t until several centuries later that scientists discovered that the Black Death was caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis, and developed effective treatments such as antibiotics.

The mask of the doctor of the blackdeath

The mask of the doctor of the Black Death, also known as the plague doctor’s mask, was a distinctive piece of clothing worn by medical practitioners during the time of the Black Death pandemic. The mask had a long beak-like nose that extended several inches from the face, and was filled with a mixture of herbs, spices, and other fragrant substances.

The purpose of the mask was twofold. Firstly, it was believed that the herbs and spices inside the beak would help to purify the air that the doctor was breathing in, and thus protect them from the disease. Secondly, the mask was designed to intimidate people, particularly those who were suffering from the disease, and give the doctor an air of authority and mystique.

The mask was typically made from leather, and had two small holes for the eyes. The rest of the face was covered by the mask, which was often accompanied by a long dark cloak and gloves, to protect the doctor from contact with infected individuals.

Today, the plague doctor’s mask is a popular costume item for Halloween and other events, and has become an iconic symbol of the Black Death pandemic.

If you would like to know more about venice 
Tour with us , just write to us happy to help you!