Masked Partying Explodes as Carnival Fever Grips Venice

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Masked revelers take to the canals, bridges and piazzas as annual Venice Carnival gets into full swing.

On Sunday, hundreds of revelers crowded the water city's narrow alleys, squares and bridges to marvel at the colorful display of masks and costumes.

The festival opened with a canal parade on Saturday evening.

The theme for this year's celebration is "Live In Color."

During the seventeen days of carnival the city fills with thousands of tourists from across Italy and the world.

Masked balls are held in ancient Venetian palaces, while concerts and gondola parades are organized in the piazzas and canals.

[Davide Casucci, Carnival-Goer]:
"It's fantastic. Eating and drinking from ten in the morning and being drunk by the evening, all the time dressed up and wearing a mask, without getting embarrassed, with everyone looking at you and taking photos. It's great fun."

From using it to vote anonymously on political matters, to boosting the allure of actors and actresses, to avoiding bad smells of the plague and the canals, the use of masks in Venice has several historic origins.

[Iolanda Parra, Tourist]:
"It surely has its fascination. This city is very rich with a particular atmosphere so let's see what it will offer us these days, with all these elegant and lovely masks that we usually only see on television that we now get to experience firsthand."

The Carnevale di Venezia is among the oldest carnivals in the world.

The carnival's end marks the beginning of Lent and signals the start of Venice's tourist season, which runs into the autumn.

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