Lifestyle & Travel

Jan 31, 2016

Venice - The art and tradition

Icon of the Carnival of Venice, the venetian mask explores the glamour of the festival that is one of the main symbols and tourist attraction in Italy. With a secular history, the Venice Carnival attracts, every year, thousands of tourists to attend exclusively the parade of masks. "Creatum-ovvero delle Arti e delle Tradizioni"("The Art and Tradition" in english) is the theme of this year's Carnival, whose celebrations take place between January 23 and February 9.

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Markedly multicultural, the result of its importance as a trading centre, especially since it dominated the trade routes to the East, Venice has become an obligatory waypoint, suitable for contact with the art, culture and other people. From the latin "carnem levare" (remove the meat), Carnival marked the end of carnal pleasures days before Lent. A whole context that together with its peculiarity, the opportunity to meet a new love through the use of masks, helped the dissemination of this carnival in the world.

It is this spirit of ancient Venice that the Artistic Director of the Venice Carnival 2016, Marco Maccapani, wants to recreate through the concept "Creatum-ovvero delle Arti e delle Tradizioni" ("The Art and Tradition" in english). From the word "Creatum" that means beginning, Maccapani pays tribute to the origins of arts and crafts of Venice.


As a village of fairy tale, and with the collaboration of "La Fenice Opera House" weavers and mask makers, the Piazza San Marco will be a living canvas where the public can see mask makers, weavers, tailors and glass manufacturers in venetian workshops of the eighteenth century. The purpose is to show that the arts and traditions in Venice are real and remain unchanged over the centuries.

The "glamor" of Venetian mask

The famous Venetian masks have been, for hundreds of years, associated with tradition and fantasy of the Carnival and many of them originated from the "Commedia dell'Arte", a type of comedy theatre from the sixteenth century, which was opposed to the rigid, formal and classical theatre that immortalized characters such as Arlechino, Colombina, Il Dottore, Pulcinella or Pantalone.

Incidentally, the official opening of Carnival took place with the Liston delle Maschere (the way of the masks, in english), a promenade took by people smartly dressed and wearing masks, displaying their wealth in silks and jewels.

The most traditional and well known is the "Bautta", planetarized by the film "Eyes Wide Shut" by Stanley Kubrick, that accurately portrays the possibility of romantic encounters hiding identity and social-class. This mask allowed to eat and drink without being removed. But there are more, let's know some of them:

Moretta - exclusively female and mysterious, held up by the front teeth via a button, imposing the forced silence of the ladies who only took it off when they had interest in a man.

Pantalone - is an elderly man famous for his sexual adventures. Commedia dell'Arte expressed in the hypocritical conservatism of society. Brighela - the wily and resourceful servant, a figure that may be loyal or betray his lords. He is responsible for the music and dance, his scene object is the guitar.

Arlecchino - the most popular. Known for being unintelligent and clumsy. Their way of walking resembles the dancing and the accent is itself of less prestigious dialects.

Colombina – the Eternal lover of Harlequin is the Commedia dell' Arte's malicious maid. Her clothes are simple and sometimes bears the colourful boyfriend's clothes.

Il Dottore – pretends to be a doctor, lawyer or any prestigious profession. Smug, pretentious, he cites Latin quotations when approached by those who believe in the farce he embodies at that moment. Uses a black lawyer cloak and a doctor cap.

Pulcinela - a simple, cunning or coward servant, with Neapolitan spirit that gives him liveliness.

There are still approximately two thousand manufacturers of masks, true works of art made of leather, papier mâché, aluminium or silk, but essential to the illusion of a fairy-tale-like atmosphere experienced on the big stage of unreal characters that Venice becomes at the Carnival.

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