VENICE, ITALY (FEBRUARY 17, 2019) (REUTERS – A flotilla of boats carrying cloaked, masked and costumed Venetians began the first full day of Carnival season on Sunday (February 17) in the famous lagoon city of Venice.
More than 130 boats made their way to the fabled district of Cannaregio cheered on by visitors on bridges and piers as they watched the parade on the waterways.
Venetians dressed like superheroes and cartoon characters rowed on gondolas along the city canals, carrying on a traditional Carnival that first began in the 11th century as a period of excess before the rigours of lent, the 40 days of fasting that traditionally precede Easter.
Alessandra Turazza from Verona said the event had “historical value” and was impossible to copy.
In the eighteenth century masks were used by noblemen in order to keep anonymity whilst voting on council matters.
Some masks were used to enable people to avoid the bad smell of the canals or if plague hit the city.