Vivacious Venice during Carnivale

The spectacular Carnevale di Venezia is a world-famous festival not to be missed!

Wondering why many Airbnb apartments are filling up faster than I can search online, discover that Venice’s Carnivale is on – an excellent time to visit!

Especially for the continual parade of stunning masks and period costumes, which takes place for a couple of weeks every year in this beautiful timeless city.

Venice, Italy, carnivale, masks, period costume
Could easily be a set from a movie


Ending forty days before Easter on Shrove Tuesday, also known as Martedi Grasso (fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras), the Christian celebration of Lent ends the Carnival, the day before Ash Wednesday. This year (2017) the Carnivale is held on the 11th-28th February.

Venice, Italy, carnivale, masks, period costume
Incredible costumes!

Why a mask you ask?

The wearing of masks in Venice dates back to the 13th-century, although the original motive for wearing a mask is unknown.

Masks were worn for various reasons the obvious one being anonymity. Such as open masks from the nose down so that people, men especially, could go out drinking, eating, and partake in skulduggery without being recognised.

A poignant mask and the one I purchased as I found the story behind the mask fascinating, was worn by Plague Doctors.

masks, costumes, Venice, Italy
Medico della Peste (Plague doctor)

Typically, the beak extended about 30 centimetres in which was placed herbs, dried flowers, spices, or a vinegar sponge. This not only kept bad smells at bay – thought the cause of the plague – but also for the doctor’s protection. For safety, glass-covered the mask’s eyes. A wide-brimmed leather hat was also worn by the plague doctors, which indicated their profession.

This costume was a sign of imminent death and so, terrified people. Regardless, the plague doctors were required under their agreement to wear this costume whenever attending to plague patients.

The opulent period costumes at the carnival will leave you craving to hire a costume and join in the ever-changing parade throughout Venetian alleyways.

Venice, Italy, carnivale, masks, period costume
Not shy…

Wow, the historical costumes back-dropped against ancient Venice are just incredible…step back in time with all the lavishness of fashion and elegance – amazing!

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Absorb yourself amongst a living theatre of spectators and masqueraders.

Venice, Italy, carnivale, masks, period costume

Costume judging takes place every morning at legendary St Mark’s Square although only managed to see one event, which is a lot of fun but very busy and crowded.

Carnivale, Venice, Italy, masks, costumes
Another bizarre entry

Hearing many German and French visitors dressed in their elaborate costumes walking the alleys of Venice, it’s as if they are living in the 17th and 18th-centuries – and often, gladly stop to pose for a photo.

Venice, Italy, carnivale, masks, period costume
Slightly more bizarre mask

The only problem is that as soon as masqueraders stop for a photo, a swarm of heads with cameras, phones, and iPads appear from nowhere to also take your photo.

Venice, Italy, carnivale, masks, period costume
Venice’s backdrop sets the scene

Indulge in busking, costume judging each morning, streetwalkers on poles, dancers, live music in bars, activities for children, arts, theatre, and much more during Carnivale.

Venice, Italy, carnivale, masks, period costume
Dated opulence

Ancient palaces house fancy-dress balls if you wish to participate.

Venice, Italy, carnivale, masks, period costume
This costume should have won – magnificent

Masqueraders exude widespread magnificence and grandeur, which is a feast for the eyes. With mystery and intrigue, trying to work out whether the masquerader is male or female or always challenging.

Venice, Italy, carnivale, masks, period costume
A full view during the judging at St Mark’s Square

Venice turns on a fantastic show for everyone, so the vibe is one of excitement, entertainment, and so much fun, but also fascinating as a spectator.

A little on Venice

It does feel great to be back in Venice!

Venice experienced little change in six hundred years. Its 435 bridges still link a maze of 121 islands that still provide endless waterways and walkways (calli), to explore Venice by foot or by boat.

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Ubiquitous vista

The lack of cars is one aspect I love about Venice, which makes nights very serene, depending on where you stay in Venice.

Venice, Italy, Carnivale, masks
The allure of Venice

With a population of less than 60,000, Venice’s magnetic charm draws around an eye-watering 30 million visitors each year. This explosion of people injects an enormous amount of tourist dollars into the city, although also exacerbates locals and infrastructure.

Love the vibe and the labyrinth of alleyways to easily lose yourself in – happens a lot in Venice and the saying is something like this: “…if you haven’t been lost in Venice then you haven’t really visited this city.”

Carnivale, Venice, Italy, costumes, masks
Regal masqueraders

Although these days with Smartphones and Apps, I wonder if many visitors still get lost. Still, many tourists (like us) carry paper maps – you don’t always have an internet connection.

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A Venetian painting around every corner

For more details on Venice, check out my next post: Eternal Venice, Italy

Getting there from Calabria, southern Italy

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The 07:55 am bus from Cosenza’s Autostazione to Lamezia Terme in Calabria, is on time.

Buses from Cosenza to this airport are not frequent and don’t run on a Sunday. And, buses from Lamezia to Cosenza are worse. If you just miss a bus during the day, then a wait of up to 2 hours is not uncommon.

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Treviso Airport is around an hour’s bus ride to bustling Piazzale Roma in Venice.

Driving along the countryside reveals a shroud of heavy fog, which helps to set the scene of romanticism approaching Venice.

When arriving at the bus terminal and depending on where you’re staying, either walk or catch a Vaporetto (public water bus) to your abode.


The Vaporetto fare is expensive for the short distances so I much prefer to walk everywhere. You can also buy a travel card, which is more economical.

Venice, Italy, Carnivale
Foggy Venice – playing around with my tiny compact camera

Escaping the hordes in Venice with a day trip to Trieste

Venice is not the place to be this weekend as just too many tourists flood in for the Carnivale’s last frantic weekend.

Time to get out!

A train trip to Trieste is a perfect escape for the day. Especially, as this city is only around two hours away from Venice and only a 10-minute drive from the Slovenian border.

Leaving Venice

Time to say goodbye to a quieter Venice as Carnivale is finished for another year, and walk the kilometre to the bus station to catch the comfortable bus back to Treviso airport.

If you need food and a place to sit while waiting in Treviso’s Departures, then Bricco isn’t too bad for pizza slices, coffee, and Brioche.

Returning to Cosenza

Returning to Cosenza is always comforting and the warmth of today is a great welcoming back from a crazy and exhausting 9-days packed with Carnivale fun in Venice. Can’t wait to go again!

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more global images. More posts on Italy at Image Earth Travel.

Venice, Italy, carnivale, masks, period costume
Milan locals getting into the spirit of things
Carnivale, Italy,Venice, costume, masks
Scarlet beauty
Venice, Carnivale, Italy, costumes, masks
The other side
Venice, Carnivale, Italy, costumes, masks
Playing the part

38 thoughts on “Vivacious Venice during Carnivale

Add yours

  1. Wow, those costumes are just spectacular! People really make an effort to “play their part” … and yes, Venice is just the perfect place to parade in your shiny ball dress!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes indeed! The costumes and parading during Carnivale are like a real-time play on a live stage. Participants really try to act the part with pretending to be coy – it’s cool!
      Thank you for leaving a comment.


    1. Hi Brian

      Happy that you liked this post. Next time you visit Venice, make it during Carnivale – although prices go through the roof. Venice sells with even more tourists if that’s at all possible. 😉

      Buona giornata

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely photos, so fortunate you could go for Carnivale! You’re right, one doesn’t feel the real Venice if doesn’t get lost through the myriad of all those alley. Cheers! Christie🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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