Venezia , Carnevale ‘ 23

“Take your time for the original signs”

Carnevale di Venezia 2023

Carnevale Venezia 2023 Zodiac

In 2018, “Creatum”, that year’s edition of the Venetian carnival, was a tribute to the circus It was exceptional for the number of masks of singular and extravagant beauty, and it had been my last visit to Venice. The sunsets there, photographing the masked revelers in Santa Maria Maggiore with Santa Maria della Salute and Piazza San Marco behind them are forever etched in my memory.

In 2019, on the other side of the world I enjoyed another superb carnival, in Barranquilla, Colombia. The carnival there was a vibrant fusion of Europe, Africa and colonial America.

Then COVID unexpectedly stopped time and closed the borders. The Venetian carnival, now an international and globalized cultural phenomenon, suffered the harsh impact. The “Serenissima” lost its days of magic, and San Marco became a deserted square.

So it was with an enormous, uncontrollable desire to relive the Carnival, to rediscover its masks, that I returned to Venice in 2023. “Take your time for the original signs” was the motto of the rebooted 2023 Carnival, under the direction of Massimo Checchetto. The theme was inspired by the signs of the zodiac, and the four elements of earth, wind, fire, and water. The idea behind this theme was that we should participate together in a zodiac of originality and creativity, while finding one’s own sign in an atmosphere of total freedom and creative expression, and experience the joys of self-affirmation.               Carnevale Venezia 2023 Zodiac

Once I got there, I slowly began to rediscover the memorable people and places I knew from before. The first was Debora Nania and her timeless show group La Bottega dei Sogni, that I photographed for the first time back in the 1990s. Then there was Nello Taverna in Zan Zaccaria, with his violin and rose-tipped bow. And so little by little I recovered my emotions and my memories.

Arnaldo Febbrini and Daniel Balletti warmly welcomed me into their Venetian house, and then we spent an afternoon talking and walking through the Venice Quarter neighborhood, getting stopped constantly when a tourist or a photographer asked for a photo with them.

“Where else in the world do you find a place where people smile at you because you are beautiful? Only here at the Carnival”, Daniel Balletti asks me and answers himself. “I like to get photographed next to a stranger, and think about how my image will go away with that person, and think about how I will probably never see it again,” he adds.      

Luca Turelli, a key figure in the new generation of masked revelers, once again organized a gathering of them in Campo San Polo. It was massive, and can be seen in the images in this gallery and in the videos on my YouTube channel. Everyone from the most famous to the least known characters came together in this unique show in a display of camaraderie and love for the Venetian Carnival. There seemed to be more masked people than spectators in the Campo crowds that day.

When night came, I settled in front of the Cafe Florian’s windows where my camera managed to enter and capture the lively atmosphere of the famous cafe, observing the masks as they mingled and chatted as if in the time of Giacomo Casanova. Suddenly my phone rang. It was Gianpaolo Alberti, who asked me to come to the Hotel Metropole, a few steps away, on the Riva degli Schiavoni, where he was taking part in a masked dinner. The splendid Metropole hotel, overlooking the Venetian Lagoon, is the setting for one of the most exclusive parties celebrated during Carnival. So I didn’t hesitate for a second, and left the famous Florian to rush to the hotel. The almost fairytale atmosphere there was so perfect and captivating that I was initially intimidated at the idea of getting out my camera. However, the kindness and refined manners of the participants quickly became an invitation and an inspiration to creation.

Aquatic processions, carriages, a floating sewer rat, a multitude of shows, historical recreations, the grace of the “Marie“ and the magic of the fire that meets with the water in the Arsenal. All this was the Venice Carnival 2023 that I experienced, which ended with the greeting from Piazza San Marco of the “Maria” winner of the year, Beatrice Raffael.

Pablo Munini @ Venice, January 2024

Carnevale Venezia 2023 Zodiac


Piazza San Marco, Carnevale 2023

Raduno delle Maschere, Capitolo I

Raduno delle Maschere, Capitolo II

Daniel Balletti and Arnaldo Febbrini 

Venezia 2023, Carnevale 

Campo Santa Maria Formosa

San Zaccaria

Allessandra Gontier and Pietro Mazzi

Luca Turelli, il cucciolo vanitoso

Carnival Party, Hotel Metropole

Night Promenade

Rose Sisters

La Bottega dei Sogni

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