Carnival Masks

The costumes and masks have been donned, there is a fizz in the air and the party has started. This afternoon the streets were full of diminutive princesses and pirates throwing coriandoli at each other. 


Nowadays, Venice's carnival only lasts for two and a half weeks, but at its height, in the 18th century, it ran for almost half the year. It started on the first Sunday in October, took a short break over Christmas and then continued from Epiphany to Lent.
Carnival came to an end in 1797 on the orders of that great party-pooper and conqueror of Venice, Napoleon Bonaparte. Evidently, he didn't like the masks or rather the anonymity they provided.
The traditional Venetian carnival mask known as a moretta.
In Venice masks have always been an integral part of carnival.

Women, traditionally, wore a moretta, a type of mask which they had to hold in place with their teeth. Needless to say, this prevented them from speaking (and eating or drinking) and so they developed a subtle and silent mode of communication, in which their eyes played an important role. 
The traditional Venetian carnival mask known as a bauta.
Men wore a bauta, a mask which (surprise, surprise) didn't involve such restrictions.

Today, most people who want to enter into the spirit of carnival wear a mask which hides no more than the top part of the face.