The masked magic of Venice Carnival

The beautiful 'floating city' may be known as 'La Serenissima', but there's one time of year when Venice loses her serenity in an all-out celebration of finery and fun. You may find fewer feathers at the Venice Carnival than in Rio, but the colourful costumes are the epitome of elegance.

The European city that we all associate with carnival has to be Venice, where the festival is brought to life with a spirit unique to this romantic city with its watery filigree of canals. And it's not surprising, as carnival tradition in Venice dates back nearly a thousand years. The Venice Carnival 2011, which aims to pay homage to two themes: the unification of Italy and women, has taken the slogan da Senso a Sissi, la citta delle donne – 'from Senso to Sissi, the city of women' – in reference to Visconti's 1954 film Senso, and to Princess Sissi, the nineteenth-century icon of fashion and elegance. From February 26th to March 8th, the whole city will be transformed into a magical world of colour, sensuality and mystery.

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