The annual Carnevale di Venezia (Carnival of Venice) takes place this year from February 16 through martedì grasso (Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras) on March 5.
The Carnevale di Venezia is an ancient tradition that stretches back to the Middle Ages when the city of Venice was first founded.
It always takes place over the two weeks (or so) that lead up to Lent. The last day is always the day before Ash Wednesday.
Some believe that its origins lie in a desire to indulge in food and drink before the “lean” days of Lent leading up to the Easter Holiday.
Others speculate that it was intended as a festival to mark the end of winter and the beginning of spring.
Today, thousands of people descend on Venice during the gathering, many of them dressed in traditional commedia dell’arte masks and costumes as well as creative costumes.
Essentially, it’s a huge party that takes over the city: Tens of thousands of people will visit Venice during Carnevale and attend the countless parties and happenings that occur across town.
There are many official Carnevale events but some would contend that the best part of Carnevale is just wandering the streets enjoying the masks, costumes, and pageantry.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll share a couple of posts about Carnevale, its history, and why it’s such a big part of Veneto culture.
And of course, the unofficial wine of Carnevale is Prosecco, a year-round favorite of the Venetians and the perfect wine to share during the revelry that takes place each year during the colorful festival.