Simply extraordinary craftsmanship in creating Venetian costumery and masks for the annual Carnevale celebration in Italy.

Many things come to mind when we think of Venice, Italy:  a city of canals and water, gondola rides, delicious food traditions (risotto, polenta, cicchetti, bacala, gnocchi, tiramisu, Bellini, carpaccio, fritelle, seafood and more), St. Mark’s Square, the domes of cathedrals, Murano glass, amazing architecture, and of course the masks and costumes worn during Carnevale every winter before the season of Lent.

This year the festivities of Carnevale in Venice began Saturday, February 23rd and will continue until March 5th, 2019.  After looking at these beautiful costumes, I’ve included a really nice  (and very current) video from Rick Steve’s on Venice’s Carnevale that you don’t want to miss at the end of this post!

For centuries, it has been traditional and expected to wear elaborate masks during the Carnival of Venice.  Wearing masks hides your identity as well as your social status.  With this anonymity, a person can mingle with people that they normally would not, as well as act in unconventional ways demanded of their social rank.  A person who might have an eye for someone special can engage in playful, romantic situations without their identity being known.   

Beautiful Images

An elaborate costume worn by a Venetian posing in front of the famous Doge’s Palace in St. Mark’s Square


These photos show the incredibly ornate detailed designs.  I can’t even imagine the amount of time that the artisans need to complete just one mask or costume.  The masks often very brightly colored, but there are also masks and costumes of solid white or black and white.  Embellishments of gold or silver, along beads, feathers, flowers, crystals, lace . . . just about anything your imagination can think of decorate the masks.  Basing the designs on the baroque style, Venetian masks came from “Commedia dell’arte” and are either cover the entire face (the bauta) or can simply cover one’s eyes alone (the Columbina). 

Beautiful images

the intricate, fine details of this mask are amazing! What talent exists among these Venetian mask artisans!


Dressing in these exquisite costumes and masks contributes to the excitement and the fun of Venice’s famous carnival.  Many people prepare year round for contests, for photographer.  People challenge each other to come up with the most creative, outrageous, detailed and beautiful costumes and masks.  In St. Mark’s Square people vote for the best costumes and masks of the year.  Flags of green are waved in the air for a ‘yes’ vote and flags of red indicate a ‘no’ vote.  A panel of designers examine every detail of the competitors and after the final vote, a judge makes the decision for who gets the prized award.

Beautiful images

What a beautiful, mesmerizing play of blue hues in this Venetian Carnevale costume. Just stunning in beauty and creativity!

beautiful images venetian carnevale

The roses made of fabric on this mask and costume must take hours and hours to create!

beautiful venetian costumes masks

The black and white with gold or silver masks are so stunning!

Themes of nature or even food are also used in the costumes and masks.

venetian costumes and masks

I can’t decide which color schemes I like the best, but I’m drawn to the blues and purples.  What do you think?

masks on display in the square

venetian costumes masks

This costume ensemble has the colors of Mardi Gras:  purple, green, and yellow.  Love the baby doll!


And here’s a video documentary that has a completely different take on Venice’s Carnevale and the tradition of wearing masks that’s worth watching and listening to!


The official website of the Carnival of Venice can be located by clicking on the following link:

February 23, 2019  –  March 5, 2019

And did you know about this traditional event for Venice’s Carnevale? The “Corteo e Festa delle Marie” – – –

The traditional “Festa delle Marie” opens the Venice Carnival and replicates the kidnapping and rescue of twelve brides, which took place at the time of the Venetian Doge, Pietro Candiano III. Since the beginning of the ninth century, it has been customary to celebrate all marriages on February 2 of each year – that is, the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary – in the church of San Pietro di Castello, seat of the Episcopate of Olivolo, to collectively receive the blessing.

On this occasion, twelve beautiful but humble Venetian young ladies were chosen and given magnificent jewels on loan by the State for their wedding, while the patrician families of Venice contributed to their dowry with donations, which each girl took to the church in specially made and finely decorated wooden boxes, called “arcelle” or “capselle”.

In 946 under the reign of Doge Pietro Candiano III, while the wedding ceremony was taking place in the church of San Pietro, a group of Dalmatian pirates broke into the church and kidnapped the young ladies, taking their precious boxes as well.

The Doge immediately organised a pursuit to hunt down the pirates and, leading the force himself, quickly caught up with the kidnappers near Caorle, killing them all and rescuing the girls and their dowries. Since then, the area where this took place has been known as the “port of damsels”.

When returning to Venice, the Doge and those who helped rescue the damsels were given an enthusiastic welcome by the citizens and the “Feste delle Marie” was established to commemorate the event each year.  For the celebration, once the twelve girls had been chosen – two for each district (sestiere) of Venice – and dressed with elegant clothes, offered by the Venetian aristocracy, there was a procession through the whole city. 

Moreover, on that occasion the Doge also paid homage to the group of Casselleri (carpenters), in the church of Santa Maria Formosa, as recognition of their value in the fight to rescue the brides.  The Feast then went on for eight days with processions, festivals, regattas and such entertainment that led the Republic to replace the real young ladies with wooden cut-outs.

After centuries of neglect, Bruno Tosi, a well-known director and cultural operator, relaunched this enactment in Venice, making the “Festa delle Marie” the opening event of Carnival, as well as a special occasion to admire the traditional Venetian costumes.

In the modern revival, twelve young ladies aged between 18 and 28 are chosen out of a group of 80-90, by a qualified jury prior to the start of Carnival. The selected twelve then parade from San Pietro di Castello to St. Mark’s Square, carried on sedans and accompanied by over 300 participants. The historic parade, escorted by groups in traditional dress from C.E.R.S. – The European Consortium of Historical Re-enactments, and the Venice Carnival Associations (Amici del Carnevale di Venezia and Associazione Internazionale per il Carnevale di Venezia), leave San Pietro di Castello at around 02:30 pm, walking along Via Garibaldi and Riva degli Schiavoni to reach St. Mark’s Square at around 04:00 pm, where the official presentation of Carnival takes place on a stage that has been set up in the most beautiful “drawing room in the world”, St. Mark’s Square.

This year, the “Festa delle Marie” will be inaugurated on Saturday, February 3, with a parade of the young Venetian ladies that have been selected and it will continue for several days until the winner has been declared and crowned “Maria” of the year in St. Mark’s Square by the Doge, at the end of a water procession leaving San Giacomo dell’Orio. The winner of the Festa delle Marie, dressed in a magnificent costume created for the occasion and in keeping with the Carnival theme will then be the protagonist the following year of the “Flight of the Angel”; an exciting and spectacular flight from the top of the bell tower of St. Mark to the centre of St. Mark’s Square.

For further information, visit:

Here’s the train information for Venice during Carnevale (click on below in red):

Trains in Venice during Carnevale 2019

If you’d love more posts full of information about Venice and/or Carnevale, here are some links to great stuff for you!

Venetian Masks