Masked for the Task of Venice Carnival

- Joy Pecknold, Passport blog editor

The sway of the gondola, the chiming of the campanili, and yes, even the flutter of pigeon wings. Venice, Italy is one of a kind.  And at no time is this more on display than during Carnevale. That’s when legions of masked men and women add to the canal city’s everyday charms. Here’s the scoop on those fabulous face shields (and where to stay when celebrating there February 25 to March 8).

“Bauta” – traditionally an all-white mask with a triangular jaw jutting out from the face so there wasn’t a need to remove it for eating and imbibing. This style originated as a sort of social status equalizer, making the wearer anonymous at societal and political functions. Brad and Angelina would benefit from this.

“Moretta” – worn by women only and usually black velvet, it was held in place by clenching one’s teeth onto a button on the back. Sounds comfortable, doesn’t it. Probably why it hasn’t been worn much since 1760.

“Columbina” – an eye mask often highly decorated with gold, silver and other adornments. The wearer keeps it in place by holding it up to the face with a baton or tied ribbons. You’ll find these at many a modern day masquerade ball.

“Medico Della Peste (a.k.a. The Plague Doctor)” – this is the most oddball of the bunch, typified by a long, exaggerated beak-like nose. The name references its 16th century roots as a rudimentary means of protecting plague doctors from contracting the disease. Why wear a plain paper mask when you can scare the sick right out of people?

“Volto”  or “Larva” – one of the most popular Venetian masks, its shape, like the bauta, allowed the wearer to eat and drink easily. White or highly-decorated, they’re typically made of lighter materials to enable a long night of wear. For the Venetian mask beginner this or the columbina is the best style to start with.

Now, for where to rest your mask at the end of the day:

Hotel Danieli, nightly rates for Carnival $551

San Clemente Palace Hotel & Resort, nightly rates for Carnival $409

Hilton Molino Stucky Venice, nightly rates for Carnival $266

  1. Akis says:

    Greece’s 4th biggest city has just launched a planet-wide internet channel to show off the biggest event of the year – a first for any city in the world!

    The Patras Carnival is the largest such event in Greece and one of the biggest carnivals in Europe with more than 160 years of history.

    Our carnival is not a single event but a variety of events that includes balls, parades, treasure hunt game, kids’ carnival and more.

    The high point is the last weekend (5th and 6th of March) with the Saturday evening parade of carnival groups, the extravagant Sunday parade of floats and groups, and finally the ritual burning of King Carnival at the St. Nikolaos Street wharf in the harbour of Patras.

    This year an enlightened organization committee the PCPWME * are pleased to announce a WORLD WIDE FIRST – an initiative that will allow anyone with access to the internet across our whole planet to watch and join in the festivities.