Spectacular Venice Carnival in Italy: Venetian Masks, Pastries, and Wine

Venice Carnival is famous for spectacular Venetian masks and costumes

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Carnival of Venice in Italy, also called Venetian Carnival, is one of the best carnivals and most famous carnivals in the World. Spectacular Venetian masks and luxurious costumes portray the gloriously opulent society of the Republic of Venice. 

Venetian Masks

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‘This was Venice, the flattering and suspect beauty — this city, half fairy tale and half tourist trap, in whose insalubrious air the arts once rankly and voluptuously blossomed, where composers have been inspired to lulling tones of somniferous eroticism.’ – Thomas Mann

MUST-SEE VENETIAN CARNIVAL MASKS AND VENETIAN CARNIVAL COSTUMES AT THE VENICE CARNIVAL 2023

Volto mask is one of typical Venetian Carnival Masks
White larva © World Travel Connector

The next Carnival of Venice, Venice Carnival 2023 is taking place from February 11-21 2023.

RECOMMENDED TOURS:
Secrets of Venice: Theatrical Carnival Walking Tour
Venice: Create Your Own Carnival Mask Workshop

I love Venice and the Veneto region, which holds some of the most gorgeous hidden gems in northern Italy.

But the Carnival of Venice keeps a special place in my heart.

I love it so much that I have visited the Carnival of Venice twice. And, I want to go back again!

In this post, I would like to show you the most famous masquerade masks in the history of masquerade.

In this article you will learn all about the Venetian masquerade and Venetian masks: types of Venetian masks, names of different types of masks, the meaning of Venetian masks, Venetian masks history,  facts about Venetian masks, and famous masquerade characters.

Hopefully, you will learn about carnival masks that will irrevocably capture your heart for the rest of your life. They certainly captured my heart!

VENETIAN MASKS, VENICE CARNIVAL COSTUMES, AND VENICE CARNIVAL CHARACTERS

Typical Venetian Carnival Masks
Zanni Venetian mask (in the middle) © World Travel Connector

The Carnival of Venice in Italy is one of the most famous carnivals in the world portraying the long history of wealth and aristocracy, as well as mystery and playfulness.

The 10-day-long Venice Carnival starts two Saturdays before ‘Ash Wednesday’ and ends with ‘Fat Tuesday”, i.e. 40 days before Easter. During the Carnival of Venice, glorious Venice with its magnificent Venice bridges, and sensational canals becomes a stage of theatrical joy embodied in lavish Venetian Carnival masks and extravagant Venetian costumes. The overall ecstasy is spiced with delicious Venetian pastries and tasty Venetian wine.

VENETIAN MASKS TYPES: The types of Carnival masks, and their meanings

Venetian mask names

2.1 Volto mask

Volto masks are typical Venetian Carnival Masks
Volto masks © World Travel Connector

Also called Larva (meaning ghost in Latin) is an iconic Venetian Carnival mask.  Larva mask is a white Venetian mask that covers the whole face and depicts basic facial features (usually nose and lips) ensuring complete anonymity. It is a full-face Venetian mask. If someone wants to enjoy absolute anonymity with a touch of mystery, then they wear a Volto mask. It is a men’s Venetian mask and a women’s Venetian mask.

 Larva costumes:

Volto masks are common Venetian Carnival Masks
Larva masks © World Travel Connector

2.2 Bauta mask

Bauta mask is a type of traditional Venetian Carnival Masks
Gold Venetian mask ‘Bauta’ © World Travel Connector

Bauta costume in Venice

The Baùtta is one of the most famous men’s Venetian masks covering the whole face.  This Venetian face mask has a square jaw, large chin, and no mouth. Usually, it is white or heavily gilded and often comes with a tricorn hat. Historically men wore it at political decision-making events since it guaranteed complete anonymity.

2.3 Colombina mask

Colombina masks are traditional Venetian Carnival Masks
Venetian masks: Colombina masks and a gold Buata mask © World Travel Connector

Opposite to the Volto and Bauta masks, the Colombina or Columbine mask is a half-mask. Colombina Venetian mask is popularly known as the Venetian eye mask since it covers only the cheeks and rarely the nose. The Colombina Carnevale mask is richly decorated with precious metals, feathers, and crystals. This Venice mask was named after a Commedia dell’ Arte Colombina character of the maidservant and a mistress of Arlecchino character. Historically women who didn’t want to hide their natural beautiful faces wore the Colombina. Later in time, men started wearing it also. Colombina Commedia Dell Arte mask is a men’s Venetian masquerade mask and a women’s Venetian mask.

Colombina masks are typical Venetian Carnival Masks
Colombina Venetian masks © World Travel Connector

2.4 Medico della Peste mask

Doctor of the Plague mask is one of the most famous Venetian masks.  Medico Della Peste mask is a bird-like mask of the Venetian carnival with an extremely long hollow beak and round eyes. Historically A plague doctor wore it to prevent the spreading of the disease. This pointy nose mask is popularly known as the Italian doctor mask or Roman doctor mask. But in Venice, it is a Venetian plague doctor mask. Usually, people who are or just want to pretend to be kinky or hypochondriacal, wear Plague doctor costumes.

2.5 Pantalone mask

Traditional Venetian Carnival Masks
Pantalone Commedia dell Arte mask © World Travel Connector

Pantalone costume in Venice

Another half-mask is the Pantalone or Pantaloone. It is similar to the Doctor of the Plague mask for its beak-like nose. This big nose mask was named after a Commedia dell’Arte character of the old man with bushy eyebrows and slanted eyesHistorically Pantalone Commedia dell Arte mask depicted the witty and intelligent, but arrogant and greedy personality of the Venetian merchant. The Pantone mask is one of the classic men’s Venetian masks.

2.6 Zanni mask

Typical Venetian Carnival Masks
Zanni Venetian mask (in the middle) © World Travel Connector

Zanni costume in Venice

Carnival of Venice mask called Zanni holds the Venetian version of the name Gianni. It has a short forehead and a long nose reversed at the end. Named after a Commedia dell’Arte character, this masquerade mask with a long nose depicts stupidity. The longer nose is, the stupider character should be.

2.7 Moretta mask

or Servetta Mutta is an oval mask with a black veil and no lips or mouth depicting a mute servant woman. Historically aristocratic women wore Moretta masks wanting to seduce men by making themselves mysterious but also wishing to stay anonymous by hiding their lips. Moretta mask is a type of female Venetian mask. In other words, the Serveta Mutta mask is a ladies’ Venetian mask.

2.8 Arlecchino mask

Arleccino mask is one of traditional Venetian Carnival Masks
Joker Venetian mask © World Travel Connector

Arlecchino costume in Venice 

The Venetian jester mask is another famous Venetian mask. Joker Venetian mask is a colorful harlequin mask with a short nose and arched brows. Sometimes Venice jester masks have large collars and bells on them. This Jolly Venetian mask was named after a Commedia dell’Arte character depicting servant of the more intelligent Pantalone. Commedia dell Arte Arleccino’s mask is easily recognized by an irregular-colored patched outfit and a big smile. During Venetian Carnivale people who wish to behave themselves as pranksters and bon-vivant wear Venetian Harlequin masks.

Harlequin costumes in Venice 

These are the most famous Venice Carnival masks. But there are many other classic Italian masks and well-known renaissance masks like the popular Gatto mask (Venetian cat mask), Pulchinello mask  (a Commedia dell’ Arte Carnival mask portraying a lazy and sneaky servant who often acts as ‘the voice of the people’and  Scaramouche mask (another Commedia dell’ Arte mask portraying unscrupulous adventurer), La Ruffina mask (portraying a Commedia dell’ Arte character of an older gossipy and sneaky woman who is a lover of Panatlone character and former prostitute).

 

VENETIAN PASTRIES

Pastries are some of the tasty foods you need to try in Venice. Frittelle Veneziane and Galani (Venetian crostoli) are some of the best authentic Italian desserts from Venice.

Besides, keep in mind that traditional foods in Italy and popular Italian drinks can take you to heaven in a blink of an eye.

3.1 Galani Venetian pastry

Venetian Carnival

Galani pastries are sweet fried crispy thin pastry strips prepared traditionally during the Venetian carnival.

The Venetian Galani are large rectangles with slits in the middle, made in such a way that you can’t stop eating them once you start.

3.2 Frittelle

Venetian Carnival

Frittelle fritters are also Venetian highly addictive pastries. The original Venetian frittelle are fried doughs with raisins inside and sprinkled sugar powder from the outside.

Venetian Carnival

4. WINE IN VENICE

4.1 Vino Ombre

Venetian Carnival
Andiamo a ombra! Saluti!

Finally, when in Venice you should try Vino ombre. It is generic, ‘on tap’, a white or red wine from the Veneto region, ordered by glass and drunk between meals. Un’ombra means the shadow in Italian. In Venice, the phrase ‘Andiamo a Ombra (Let’s go in the shadow)’ means let’s have a glass of wine.

5. WHERE TO STAY IN VENICE 

Recommended accommodation in Venice:

BUDGET: Anda Venice Hostel (Mestre), Combo Venezia  (Cannaregio)

MID-RANGE: Ca’ Riza, Hotel Bel Sito & Berlino, B&B Venetian Experience, Locanda Al Leon,  B&B Rialto Dream, Antico Portego

UPSCALE: Palazzo Veneziano,  Hotel Ai Reali – Small Luxury Hotels of the World, The Gritti Palace, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Hotel Danieli, A Luxury Collection Hotel 

6. VENICE DISCOUNTS AND TRANSPORT

Marco Polo Airport to Venice City Center by Express Buss

Treviso Airport to Mestre and Venice by Express Bus

Shared Water Taxi from Venice Marco Polo Airport to central Venice hotels

Marco Polo Airport from/to Mestre Train Station by Express Buss

Venice Public Transportation: Waterbuses & Mainland Buses 

24-Hour Venice City Pass with Doge’s Palace & Public Transport

7. MUST SEE IN VENICE & TOP THINGS TO DO IN VENICE 

Doge’s Palace (Priority Admission Ticket)

St Mark’s Basilica Guided Tour (Skip-the-Line)

Doge’s Palace & Basilica Tour 

2-Hour Doge’s Palace & St. Mark’s Basilica (Skip-the-Line)

La Fenice Opera House in Venice

Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice

Traditional Shared Gondola in Venice

Shared Gondola Ride Across Grand Canal 

8. EXPERIENCE VENICE IN A DIFFERENT WAY

Create Your Own Carnival Mask Workshop

Venetian Lagoon Tour and Galleon Dinner 

Sunset Boat Tour with Spritz in Venice

9. INSIDER AND OFF-THE-BEATEN PATH VENICE

Morning Walking Tour in Venice

2.5-Hour Street Food Tour with a Local Guide

40-Minute Sparkling Wine & Italian Prosecco Tasting in Venice

Rialto Market Food and Wine Lunchtime Tour in Venice

Doge’s Palace Secret Itineraries (Skip-the-Line)

Wine & Food Tour Near Venice’s Jewish Quarter

Jewish Getto & Cannaregio Wine and Food Tour

2-Hour Legends & Ghosts of Cannaregio Tour

10. BEST DAY TRIPS FROM VENICE

Murano, Torcello & Burano Islands in the Venetian Lagoon

Although the Venice Carnival lasts 18 days, you can spend at least one day in Venice during the Carnival and witness all these beautiful Venetian masks and Carnival Venice costumes! And of course, taste some mouth-watering Italian pastries with a glass of fine wine in Venice!

Have you ever visited Venice during Carnival in Venice? What do you think of beautiful masquerade masks and carnival clothing in Venice? Which one of the Venetian masks is your favorite? Do you agree that Venetian masquerade masks for men and masquerade masks for women are utterly spectacular? Would you wear a Venetian carnival costume during the Carnival? Have you tried some of the Venetian pastries or wine in Venice?

PS: Have you seen pretty Venetian ladies in beautiful masquerade dresses and gorgeous Carnival of Venice costumes?

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED LINKS. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ MY DISCLAIMER FOR MORE INFO.

34 comments

  1. Carnival looks amazing!!! The history of the masks is fascinating, I did not know there were stories behind each kind. I really want to see Venice someday, and maybe try one of those frittelle!

  2. You’re lucky to experience the carnival in Venice. I’m sure everywhere you look is a photo opportunity. Frittelle is something I need to try when we’re back in Venice. Thanks for sharing your experience. 🙂

  3. That’s nice! I visited Venice, it was such a lovely city but… I’ve never seen such numbers of tourists anywhere else in the world. It was almost unbearable :/ Thanks God I discovered the town of Burano which is also amazing yet stays underrated in the shadow of Venice. But as I know, you’ve visited Burano as well so you know what I’m talking about 🙂

    1. Hey, Mihaela!I left buying a mask for my next Carnival visit. This time I just got painted my face. 🙂

  4. I had no idea this even existed! What an awesome experience this must have been! I really loved the picture of the older couple dressed in the Pantalone mask…they were so cute!

  5. So many different kinds of masks and I didn’t know about it all! So, thanks for the education!!! I like the Volto Mask & Columbina Mask!!! Its really sad that I missed Venice when I was in Italy! 🙁

  6. Oh, my that first picture is magical! I definitely need to visit during Carnival now. I’ve always had Mardi Gras on my bucket list, but this looks way better.

  7. I visited Venice in the summer and absolutely loved it. I definitely want to go back, so I’m thinking Carnival would be a great time. I love the colorful costumes.

  8. What a site to behold! I didn’t know this was a thing in Venice, but it’s easy to see why! How spectacular. Those costumes are incredible!

  9. ooh, I saw those masks on display and sale but did not realise that there was a festival where you could celebrate them. This is so cool and vibrant and you have captured them beautifully in this post.

  10. I love this post and all the beautiful and ornate costumes that all the participants wear. The Pantalone mask cracks me up every time, with the long nose. And who can go wrong with costumes and Venetian pastries!!!Yum!!!

  11. I was in Venice for a weekend in January and I loved it, but now I’m slightly sad I missed out on the carnival! I love your in-depth descriptions of all the masks and pastries – I can feel some story ideas brewing!!

  12. Oh wow! The nature and names of the different masks is my favorite part of your article. I’ve been fascinated with masks and sometimes think it’ll be grand to be part of a masquerade. Blame it from watching Phantom of the Opera, I guess. Anyway, a mask is a mask for me before and didn’t gave a thought what the different masks are called. Needless to say, I enjoyed this post very much!

  13. I’ve always wanted to go to Venice at that time of the year but I’ really scared of the amount of people and the raise of the prices for the occasion. My brother visited a couple months ago and brought back a mask. thanks to your article, I now know that it is more than just a mask, it is a Volto !

  14. Amazing….. I always wanted to go to Venice for the film festival. Now I have to rethink my timing! I would want to bring a costume as well and attend a party or two..

  15. Such gorgeous photos! The Venetian carnival has always fascinated me.The masks and costumes are works of art and I’d love to experience it all first hand. Hopefully, i can make that happen soon 😀

  16. Everyone looks so beautiful and mysterious! I’ve never been but I love “dressing up” so I know I would love it. Loved reading about all the different types of masks. I didn’t know that there were so many different kinds!

  17. I am from New Orleans, so have done Carnival there a few times (at least..), I have been to Brazil for Carnival, and now I live in the only place in Germany which celebrates Carnival in a big a way (Cologne region). So I have my Carnival experiences but had NO IDEA that Venetian Carnival was a thing! From your photos, it looks like it would also be my favorite! I have made a note to look into going there next year for the Carnival! Thanks!

  18. Great post! I was in Venice in January, so, unfortunately, before carnival. But it was fun to window shop for costumes and masks. My favorite Venetian pastry would be the fritelle. 🙂

    Buon viaggio!
    C

  19. We have visited Venice but not the carnival. I would definitely love to see it. I love all the costumes and masks. Have you been to Germany during the carnival. That is fun too. Great pictures!

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