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carnival

The charm of the Venice Carnival and its inimitable masks through the centuries

 

You have probably heard about Venice Carnival, but did you know that it is one of the most famous Carnivals in the world and most of all, it is probably one of the oldest Carnivals ever existed. And it has a very interesting history that you probably didn’t know.

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There are some records of Carnivals held before 1000, but the first certain evidence is dating from 1162 when people of Venice were celebrating the victory of the Republic of Venice against the Patriarch of Aquileia.

However, throughout different historical periods, Venice has been conquered and dominated by several external powers. Although the importance and significance of the Carnival have evolved during the centuries, there were some dark times when the Carnival was prohibited and even outlawed. During the rule of Hapsburgs, wearing masks in public was forbidden. The dominators were afraid of their political opponents who could have easily hidden their identity and organize a conspiracy against the Austrian dominion.

After these ups and downs, the Carnival of Venice has been officially established only in 1979! The mask makers have again started to craft these fantastic creations made of leather, papier-mâché, gypsum, with ornaments made with hand painted decorations, gold and silver applications, feathers, silk, crystals and precious stones.mm0006

Some of the most famous Venetian masks are: bauta, colombina, medico della peste, moretta, volto, pantalone, arlecchino, zanni… Each of them has a history behind and all of them were used in different occasions throughout the centuries. They were not only related to the Carnival but to the social traditions through different centuries.

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Nowadays more than 3 million tourists visit Venice during the Carnival period that starts with “The Flight of The Angel” in San Marco’s Square. This year the Carnival will start on 11th February and it will go on for two weeks. Let’s see who is going the win the “Best Mask of the Venice Carnival”, the competition that gathers mask makers from all over the world.

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All those “lies”….at Carnival

If you happened to be in Italy during the pre-Carneval time, you will be wondering what are those strange, irregular shaped pastries you see everywhere. You will find them at the counter of the coffee bars, bakeries and pastry shops. You can get a paper bag full of these pastries and once you started to eat them you won’t be able to stop. Well, if you didn’t know, these are “lies”. Yes, they are called bugie or chiacchiere, according to the region you are from, or in some parts of Italy they are also called frappe. In English speaking countries they are known as Carnival fritters.

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These fried sweets are made of flour, eggs, liquor and honey mixed together. By shaping them in small rectangles and by frying them, you will obtain this irregular shaped “clouds” of dough, that, once sparkled with powdered sugar you will have these fragrant and crunchy sweets that you will become addicted to.

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The origin of the Carnival fritters brings us back to the Roman times when frappe were made and offered to the crowd celebrating on the streets. Usually, a big quantity was prepared and it was lasting for the whole period of the celebrations.

In case you have never tried them before and you still don’t have an idea what are we talking about, just imagine crunchy thin sweet fried dough that first noisily breaks under your teeth and then melts in your mouth releasing the taste of vanilla, honey and liquor.

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And if this is not enough, here is the recipe!

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