Carnival in Venice is taking a quality leap, and an educational note. This period of three weeks is becoming a collective opportunity, for Venetians and visitors alike, to explore the forgotten heritage of Venice. Amongst others, we can now discover the secrets of colors in ancient Venice, learn about decorating and the ancient food art for which Venice was famous for more than 1200 years.
In Venice, Carnival was taken up in 1979 after almost 200 years, after wearing masks had been forbidden under Austrian rule. Even the notion of Carnival had to be rediscoverd slowly..
Carnival in Venice has its own special style, reflected in the flowers used for decorations. The image above gives you the complete picture of the colors of Carnival, its subdued mood in a city looking pale blue and dark emerald in February. It’s still a frozen Venice: For now, the season has no flashy colors, but is shrouded in dark purple, emerald, pale yellow, shiny black and brilliant whites.
On the other hand, Venice in February already shows tentative signs of spring, regaling flowers used to decorate Carnival feasts and banquets. The gardens make progress every single day, and by the end of February, the cherry trees blossom in the orchards of the Lagoon and in Treporti.
These pale cherry blossoms were favorites, used in styling Carnival events 300 years ago. Also, the pale rose and purple colors of tulips and white-yellow daffodils were used to create more intense accents in flower decorations, just as they are today.
Hothouses were present in Venice since the 15th century, as many sensitive plants of this botancial city required protection in winter: These hothouses were not used to cultivate spring flowers, though, and for Carnival, the Venetians relied on the blossoms of late winter and in particular, pale yellow mimosa and purple camelias.
As Venetians have always loved using edible herbs to decorate the tables, the garden blossoms were livened up with evergreen herbs such as emerald green laurel leaves, rosemary sprigs and thyme and their wilted blossoms of the past summer.
Venetian Carnival decorations are still an enticing mix of old and new, rural and elegant city style, creating a unique setting which is no coincidence. In the past, it was well planned, also colorwise: For example, the color blue was never part of any Carnival decoration in Venice, and there was a good reason for it which we explain in our green Carnival e-guide.
Also in the ancient Venice, the selection of colors for food and table decorations were always based on the color wheel: They must reflect the mood of the season and balance it out. For example, in February, white and blue days require golden and purple hues, to create the contrast to the pale lavender and dark white colors of the sky, both in food and in decorating the tables.