The Carnival of Venice 2012© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.com
It is said that the Carnival of Venice was originated from a victory of the "Repubblica della Serenissima", Venice previous name, against the Patriarch of Aquileia, Ulrico in the year 1162. In the honour of this victory, the people started to dance and make reunions in San Marco Square. Apparently this festival started on that period and become official in the Renaissance. After a long absence, the Carnival return to operate in 1979. The Italian government decided to bring back the history and culture of Venice, and sought to use the traditional Carnival as the centerpiece of their efforts. Today, approximately 3,000,000 visitors come to Venice each day for Carnivals.
There is very little evidence explaining the motive for the earliest mask wearing in Venice. It has been argued that covering the face in public was a uniquely Venetian response to one of the most rigid class hierarchies in European history.
The first documented sources mentioning the use of masks in Venice can be found as far back as the 13th century. The mask would permit the wearer to act more freely in cases where he or she wanted to interact with other members of the society outside the bounds of identity and everyday convention. It was useful for a variety of purposes, some of them illicit or criminal, others just personal, such as romantic encounters.
Venetian masks are characterised by their ornate design, featuring bright colours such as gold or silver and the use of complex decorations in the baroque style. Many designs of Venetian masks stem from Commedia dell'arte. They can be full-face masks (e.g. the bauta) or eye masks (e.g. the Columbina).
The city stretches across 117 small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea in northeast Italy.
Situated on the Adriatic Sea, Venice always traded with the Byzantine Empire and the Muslim world extensively. By the late thirteenth century, Venice was the most prosperous city in all of Europe. At the peak of its power and wealth, it had 36,000 sailors operating 3,300 ships, dominating Mediterranean commerce.
The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark (officially known in Italian as the Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco and commonly known as Saint Mark's Basilica) is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. It is the most famous of the city's churches and one of the best known examples of Byzantine architecture. It lies at the eastern end of the Piazza San Marco, adjacent and connected to the Doge's Palace. Originally it was the chapel of the Doge, and has only been the city's cathedral since 1807, when it became the seat of the Patriarch of Venice, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, formerly at San Pietro di Castello. For its opulent design, gilded Byzantine mosaics, and its status as a symbol of Venetian wealth and power, from the 11th century on the building has been known by the nickname Chiesa d'Oro (Church of gold).
The Doge's Palace (Italian: Palazzo Ducale) is a gothic palace, and one of the main landmarks of the city of Venice. The palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the Republic of Venice, opening as a museum in 1923.
As well as being the ducal residence, the palace housed political institutions of the Republic of Venice until the Napoleonic occupation of the city in 1797, when its role inevitably changed.
Venice was subjected first to French rule, then to Austrian, and finally in 1866 it became part of Italy. Over this period, the palace as occupied by various administrative offices as well as housing the Biblioteca Marciana and other important cultural institutions within the city.