Small head and shoulders photo of us in mask and costume

Taking part in the

Venice Carnival


About the carnival


1. Costume
2. Sightseeing
3. Who goes there?
4. Impolite people
5. Carnival themes
6. Weather
7. Carrying things
8. Where & how
9. Mutual respect
10. Have fun!

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4. Most people are polite - but some aren't

I don't want to write a lot of negative stuff, but... if I warn you about a few things now, they shouldn't spoil your enjoyment when you're there. Forewarned is forearmed!

A lot of people will ask politely if they can take your photo, or if they can have a picture taken with you. Other people will then come along and, if you're still posing, they will take a picture too. That's fair enough, but watch out for:

  1. Essential costume adjustments. Your mask might be slipping off, or the wind may be about to blow your hat away, and you need to do a quick adjustment of your costume. Whatever the reason for your costume falling apart or looking untidy, someone will insist on taking your photo at that precise moment. Don't be upset - and remember, even if the photo does end up somewhere on the Internet, no-one really knows who you are!

  2. People who push in front of you, blocking your path in order that they can take photos of you. Perhaps they are unsure what language to ask in, so decide to take a more direct approach.

  3. Parents who suddenly start arranging their children around your feet, in preparation for a cute family holiday photo - without warning. Your view is restricted in a mask, especially at floor level. Be careful that you don't trip over, or (worse) accidentally kick the children across St Marks Square!

No doubt, some people believe that those of us in costume are professional actors hired by the tourist board, and put there solely for them. When you come across this, you begin to wonder how the costumed people at theme parks, like Disney, manage to cope with this every single day! I guess it's a case of being prepared for impolite people, and not letting them get to you. And sometimes, an action that you think is impolite could just be a cultural misunderstanding (remember, there are many nationalities of people in Venice at carnival time). The majority of folks are friendly, polite people having a good time. That should be your aim too!

One final note about costume - take care of yours, especially if it's rented. There are lots of pigeons in Venice, and it's not difficult to sit on some pigeon mess on a step or a pavement cafe chair. So watch where you sit! Also, a (very) few revellers like to spray each other with silly string and shaving foam. If you're standing nearby, there's a chance your costume might be in the firing line, so keep a look out just in case. We had a near miss that would have cost us a nasty dry cleaning bill, and were extra vigilent after that. No-one should aim at you personally, as it seems to be students and teenage friends having a laugh.

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