Princesses and pirates on the Cannaregio Canal for Venice Carnival boat parade

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.

During the two weeks of carnival the canal city fills with thousands of tourists from across Italy and the world and many had joined in the spirit with elaborate costumes – or at least a mask.

One tourist taking the dress code seriously, Alexis Marathovouniotis from Cyprus, told Reuters that Venice Carnival is an experience everyone should have at least once in a lifetime.

But the Carnival thrill tempts Italians as well as tourists from abroad.

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.

Associated Links

  • ThomsonReuters
  • Venice
  • Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics
  • Carnival
  • Veneto
  • Geography of Italy
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