Jan 30, 2013: Venice is buzzing with preparations for the end of Carnival. It began officially on the 26th of January 2013 and ends on the 12th of February 2013. The Grand Theater has been build in Piazza San Marco, the “Marie” (like the beauty queen) has been chosen, the “best costumes” have been judged and the Venetians have eaten their quota of Fritelle (the small pastries). Here are some pictures of the pagentry, the costumes, and the craziness that ensues. View our youtube video
Theater San Marco Square – Built for Carnival
There’s no new costume for us this year, just some updating of our hats and masks and a few baubles. We were hoping that no one noticed, but our favorite barista immediately inquired on our costumes. I have already seen the idea for 2014, and it will take all year and I’ll have to save a bundle. The materials for these costumes are quite expensive, as is the lace and decorations and the sewing is intensive – maybe I can trade beads for a seamstress. The costumes entail not only a gown or men’s outfit, but the shoes, stockings, and most important the masks and the hats which both must be extravagant and over the top.
Red and Black Carnival Costumes
Some costumes are true to the periods of the 15th and 16th century while others are very imaginative. Each day there is a “Best Costume” contest where anyone can enter with the audience judging the costumes. Each days winners go on to compete in the final contest. The green card is vote for the costume, the red a vote against. The winners are presented on the closing day. Don’t worry if you get voted off the stage, you can try again!
Voting on the Best Costume
More Costumes with San Marco in the background
Sat Feb 09 and Sunday 10 brought the huge crowds, especially the younger people who made a party until the wee hours. Venetians tolerate this invasion of their normally quite life and a well staffed police force herds the crowd in a one way traffic by foot to and back from San Marco.
Crowds arriving by Bus and Train walking to San Marco
In Campo San Stefano, a large outdoor market for costumes gives everyone an opportunity to dress in class. And mask stores abound in the city, with prices for everyone.
Shopping in San Stefano for Costumes
Despite our hopes, Monday, 11 February brought us snow and high water bringing a early closure in San Marco of the celebration for the day. Fortunately the winds turned and the very high water did not arrive. The high water flushed much of the snow from the streets and Tuesday brought a dry day to San Marco. The closing day ceremonies included the crowning of “La Marie” by the “Doge” of Venice, as shown below, followed by the flight of the Lion of Venice (the flag of the Republic of Venice).
La Marie is crowned
A tradition in Venice, Casanova presides
One of the winners of the contest – took 5 months to make
With the crowd singing the anthem of the Republic of Venice “La Serenissima”, an emotional scene for all Venetians, their proud flag is hosted to the top of the bell tower. At this moment, despite the costumes, you knew immediately which ones were Venetians as they sang.
The official close of the Carnival is the silence gondola parade from Rialto to San Marco and the giant bonfire which marks the end of the Plague.
….And now everyone begins planning for 2014 which ends on 4 March 2014.
……..See you there!