Flight of the Angel
Yesterday morning, up to 100,000 people are thought to have squeezed into the Piazza San Marco to watch Il Volo dell'Angelo (Flight of the Angel), but I was not one of them.
I attended the event last year and vowed never to do so again, as it actually took me thirty minutes to get out of the jam-packed piazza. This year the event was marked by tightened security with restricted points of entry and police on the roofs of the surrounding buildings.
The Flight of the Angel (which consists of nothing more than the lowering a young woman from the top of the campanile to the piazza below) has its origins in a much more exciting event called Il Volo del Turco, which originated in the 16th century.
The volo would take place on Giovedi Grasso (Fat Thursday, the last Thursday of carnival) and it involved a Turkish acrobat walking up a rope (attached to a boat moored in the bacino) to the top of the bell-tower. The acrobat would then descend via another rope to the balcony of the Palazzo Ducale, where he would pay homage to the doge.