On display in the shops of Venice’s vivid streets are some brilliant indigenous products – glass from Murano, lace from Burano, marbled paper, charming beads, and gorgeous leather-bound stationery. But it is the varicolored carnival masquerade masks that stand out with their unique mystique.
Little souvenir shops selling these masks are littered all around Venice. Some sell machine-made pieces in garish hues but there a few that are still committed to traditional handmade papier-mâché. They can also be made in leather, porcelain or with the original glass technique.
Masks are an integral part of the carnival celebrations that dates back to the 13th century. Covering the face with masks in public in those days was a uniquely Venetian response to rigid class hierarchies.
The carnivals would last so long that it was possible for some to spend a fair amount of the year in disguise :-). Eventually, the wearing of masks in daily life was restricted.
This is my favorite shop from where I bought my souvenirs. I don’t remember its name or whereabouts as I was rather lost by the time I got to it :-)