The Italian Almanac

carnival in Venice

Carnival im Venice

Venice's annual carnival celebrations will kick off on a Bacchanalian note with a fountain filled with wine and a grand toast to Venice, event organizers announced. Venezia Marketing & Eventi unveiled the carnival schedule, which promises 19th-century fantasy and fantastic crowds starting February 19. Artistic director Davide Rampallo is orchestrating scenery, costumes and events following a theme that dips revelers into the 1800s: 'The City of Women' and 'Giving Sense to Sissi'.

Venice is seen by Venetians as having female sensuality, organisers said. And for the 150th anniversary of Italy's unity, the carnival will be dedicated to famous 19th-century heroines of the post romantic era, and feature mock battles re-enacting clashes between Austrian soldiers and Italian unification fighters.

'Sissi' refers to Elisabeth of Bavaria, Empress of Austria and the spouse of Franz Joseph I. Venice and much of northern Italy were wrenched from the Austro-Hungarian Empire under her rein, during the unification of Italy. She was famed for her beauty, attention to personal style, and non-conformism, since she abhorred the strict protocols of the Hapsburg court. She is also a tragic figure whose life has inspired filmmakers and theatrical producers.

Redingotes, top hats, corsets and crinolines will be de rigueur at grand balls, historical re-enactments, theatre pieces, and other planned events. Waltzes and tangos will held every evening in Piazza San Marco. A rich and colorful Children's Carnival is also planned, for the second year in a row.

From February 26 to March 8, the Giardini della Biennale will be transformed into 'The Garden of the Flying Countries', with exhibitions, shows, treasure hunts, concerts and live performances. Scenery will tread the threshold of fantasy and reality, where children can wander through an enchanted forest, across the dunes of an ochre desert, in a meadow of sounds, through a city of visions, and in abysses inhabited by fluorescent creatures.