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  • Writer's pictureRobin Yong

Once upon a time in Venice 風裡の夢

Updated: Jan 14













Memories from 2014...this was my very first Venice Carnevale...

The Masked Costumer in silver later became my second photography teacher.

With more than 20 years in Venice as a masked costumer, Florine Houee is one of the most famous masks in the history of time, very much sought after by photographers all over the world. Her costumes are always very attractive and her poses very animatic and dramatic.

On this spontaneous street scene, Florine joins Giushi Turu for a few photos outside the San Zaccaria church, her silver wings flattering in the wind, opening and closing like a clam.

The scene is timeless, just like a page out of a fairy tale.

According to legend, the Carnival of Venice started following the military victory of the Venetian Republic over the Patriarch of Aquileia, Ulrico di Treven in the year 1162. In the honour of this victory, the people started to dance and gather in San Marco Square. Apparently, this festival started in that period and became official in the Renaissance. In the seventeenth century, the baroque carnival was a way to save the prestigious image of Venice in the world. It was very famous during the eighteenth century. It encouraged licence and pleasure, but it was also used to protect Venetians from present and future anguish. However, under the rule of the Holy Roman Emperor and later Emperor of Austria, Francis II, the festival was outlawed entirely in 1797 and the use of masks became strictly forbidden. It reappeared gradually in the nineteenth century, but only for short periods and above all for private feasts, where it became an occasion for artistic creations.

After a long absence, the Carnival returned in 1979. The Italian government decided to bring back the history and culture of Venice and sought to use the traditional Carnival as the centrepiece of its efforts. The redevelopment of the masks began as the pursuit of some Venetian college students for the tourist trade. Since then, approximately 3 million visitors come to Venice every year for the Carnival.

Alas, there will likely be a period of abscence for the Venetian Carnevale and probably years before holiday travel becomes easy again. History has told us that pandemics generally last from 3 to 9 years, and I expect this current one to be no different. Even if social distancing, masks, quarantine and vaccination allows for some travel for a privileged few because travel will be expected to be much more expensive and time consuming, it will be very different from what it was before. We are probably still very early on into the pandemic and many travel businesses have closed with major airlines worldwide still laying off staff and closing offices.

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