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Caroline’s Carnivale

Close your eyes and picture yourself moving slowly through the set of the most spectacular theatre performance you’ve ever seen. You wander from street to street. Stretching out your arms, you can touch the walls at either side. Music fills the air. The crowds move and weave, but every face is a mask – one more elaborate than the other. Everywhere the most vibrant colours dazzle.

The sounds of music and

lapping water mingle, and fill the air. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the feel of the wonderful Venetian Carnivale.

Avid Waterford Camera Club member, Caroline O’Regan, fulfilled one of her many travel dreams and attended the Carnivale twice, most recently in February 2011. Her photographs are breathtaking, and completely captured my imagination when I chanced upon several of them proudly displayed at a recent exhibition in City Square.

Caroline away for a cup of coffee, she was only too delighted to share her wonderful experience.

The Carnival is held annually just before

Lent. It’s a lovely time of year for a festival as the

weather is not too hot – I can’t imagine trying to survive in those heavy costumes in the blistering heat of an Italian Summer. As you’ll see from Caroline’s stunning pictures, the costumes (particularly the ladies) are voluminous.

Venice can prove expensive at the best of times, and during the festival period accommodation would be expensive and almost impossible to find. Wisely, on her first visit Caroline stayed in the lovely garden city of Padua which is just a four euro, twenty minute, train ride to Venice. Anyone who is familiar with the Italian rail system will know that it’s one of the most efficient in the world.

Second time Encouraging

around she knew what to look out for (and when) and was very lucky to stay in the lovely hotel right in the centre of Venice, the Ca’ San Rocco. Caroline tells me how Venice becomes another city at night, with more than 80% of the daytime population leaving for the night. In the later hours you can make Venice your home, sipping espresso and listening to the soft strains of the music in St. Mark’s Square. Don’t forget, in Venetian cafes the closer you sit to the pavement the more your food or drink will cost!

The signature item and essential souvenir for every attendee at the Carnival is the Mask. Indeed, in my own opinion, the mask is almost a symbol of this spectacular city. Historically used to protect the identity of the wearer and thus grant some temporary social immunity to participants in the revelry, these are items of great beauty. Varying very much in their style, from quite simple to lavishly elaborate, the masks have an equally wide variation in price. So lovely are these items that many people make it a lifetime’s work to collect them. Such is the expense of the better ones that you could only afford them from rare time to rare time. Masks are freely available for purchase all over the city and you can start rather inexpensively and get a pretty one for around €70. After that, the prices range up to tens of thousands of Euro.

Forget those rumours that Venice is dirty and crowded – it’s every bit as lovely as you have dreamed!


by Sandra Laine

Photos: Caroline O'Regan

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