November 17, 2009


        Italian souvenirs by Mirino

It sometime happens. Dreams coming true. A wonderful gift from a dear friend. A carnival weekend in Venice.
We arrived very early having taken the night train. The sun, pale orange-carmine, gloriously magnified, was rising to greet us, but it was very cold. The fresh wind whipped our faces. And that first cup of cappuccino in the cosy, fragrant bar was so welcome and warming!

Within easy walking distance to the Piazza San Marco, the little hotel was perfect. In fact we had an independent room quite separate from the hotel itself, its door giving us direct access to the little, outside lane. We could come and go without disturbing anyone.

Gradually it all started. One could already feel the build up of a special atmosphere. And as it all unfolded, as though every detail and event was preconceived for the realisation of the complete capolavoro veneziano, I had the wonderful impression that I was being consecutively directed to where each event of real significance and artistic merit was taking place.

Maybe it was my own childish enthusiasm or awareness, incited by the imaginative intelligence, the beauty, and elegance of so many of those participating, their fabulous costumes and masks, that also guided me and created that necessary contact when one wishes to record as well as possible what's taking place.

I like to think that many photographs I took reveal this special contact. That certain expression, sad, beautiful eyes that really look at you from behind the mysterious mask that appears to convey exactly the same emotion. That particular penetrating and haunting gaze of someone disguised as death itself, that would later inspire me. Each moment was magic from beginning till end, from morning till night. 

I know how unique this occasion was for me. Such moments can never be repeated. It's no good trying to repeat them. It would be a mistake, like attempting to reproduce an outstanding work of art, instead of simply treasuring the original, in this case, in the mind's eye.
I would gladly visit Venice again, but not to see another carnival. I treasure too much the gift. The unique realisation of a dream. (Venezia, un Giorno)

Trying to capture the magic of the Venetian Carnival is nothing new of course. It has been the source of inspiration for centuries. And the fact that it's roots date from as far back as the thirteenth century can only add to its special enchantment and mystery. It's also a revealing indication of the liberality and libertinism of the Venetians. (A Venetian decree established in 1458 forbade men dressed as women from entering convents with immoral intentions..). But at one time the festivities were violent, due to differences between rival parishes then dividing the city. Sixteenth century history records mass fighting, particularly on the bridges. Open bull fights and the running of pigs or oxen in Venice are also recorded. It's difficult to associate this with the Renaissance, with the magnificent feats of art and architecture, and the exquisite finesse of its fashions. Perhaps this is another paradox of the times, or would it be caused by the frustrations of class division and social discontent then generally rife in Europe?

Our brief Venetian stay was naturally much calmer. For our last evening, we found a charming little restaurant, and again there was that indefinable contact, a sort of mutual recognition, perhaps appreciation, one would like to believe. No need to talk, or to try to communicate, it's already there, the excellent meal, wine and atmosphere. The complicit cordiality and elegance of the proprietress. That warm, spontaneous and nostalgic way in which she bade us farewell.
Should we ever return to Venice in another season, I wonder if we shall be able to find that little restaurant again. But perhaps we should never even try. 


Text & image © Mirino (PW) November, 2009. Source Wikipedia.



  1. Simply gorgeous (post and pictures)!

  2. Thanks Rob. But due to the subject. All credit to Venice. I was just a very fortunate observer.

  3. Patricia Wennerholm1:45 AM, November 18, 2009

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve never been there for the Carnival (though that’s on my bucket list), but I love Venice in winter. The first time I visited Venice, more than 10 years ago, was in February and I felt in love with it! In winter the streets are uncrowded, and you get a real feel for the city, something you don’t find so easily when there are some hundred thousands of tourists.
    Besides being the most romantic and beautiful city and the most completely preserved historic town in the world, Venice is also the largest pedestrian zone I’ve ever seen. A city without cars!
    Venice is a place beyond words, a dream of timeless beauty, a dream come true...

  4. anch'io ho provato un assaggio di Carnevale Venezia (città che amo e che visito spesso) e ricordo, oltre alle meraviglie, un gran F R E D D O !