Carnival Unmasked

blessings from italy
Imagine a romantic escape with a difference this winter and even better, one including a blessing ceremony held during the period of Carnival! If you would enjoy an opportunity to dress in costume and relish taking part in the festivities then Italy is certainly the destination for you from 15th February to the 4th March 2014. How fortunate that this period coincides with St. Valentine’s Day… What a perfect setting to propose!
Tuscan cities Foiano della Chiana, Castiglion Fibocchi and Viareggio are definitely worth a visit during Carnival but without doubt the most spectacular and sophisticated experience is to be found in Venice. The atmosphere during a Venetian Carnival is lively and mysterious. The costumes are indescribably stunning and there is nothing more intriguing than a chance encounter with one of the many costumed apparitions that suddenly seem to appear from nowhere in the narrow streets that twist and turn throughout Venice. Often and very courteously they will stop and adopt an enigmatic pose for curious tourists and fellow revelers.
The Venice Carnival has its origins in the mid to late 12th century and in 1268 masks made an appearance for the first time. In strictly hierarchical Venetian society, wearing a mask created the illusion of breaking down social barriers. All were equal under the cover of disguise and of course illicit love affairs and hedonistic behaviour were more anonymously enjoyed!
Carnevale has its roots in many traditions, from the Latin feast of Saturnalia to the Greek feast of Dionysian cults which celebrated the end of winter. Many consider Carnival as a time for partying and revelry and it is easy to forget that Carnival was once a means of controlling tendencies to excess. Behaviour was often so outrageous that laws were passed to restrict the wearing of masks to certain times of year, including Carnival.
The origin of Carnevale is still disputed between the Latin phrase, ‘carne vale’ meaning ‘farewell to meat’, and the Italian ‘carne levare’, meaning ‘to remove meat’. The festivities were once viewed as a way of using up rich foods including meat just before the forty days of Lent during which celebrations were banned. It was a great excuse to get together and have a huge party, in which the idea was to eat, drink and be merry… not that Italians need much of an excuse at any time of year!