Thursday Rossana and I depart on our latest adventure. Despite all of our planning there are a few unanswered questions and we have no idea how it will turn out. But that's half the fun, isn't it? For this trip, we are returning to a place dear to my heart. Venice! From the moment I stepped foot in Venice years ago I fell in love with it. And I wondered what it would be like to be there during Carnival and dreamed of attending a masked ball in one of the palaces that line the Grand Canal. Come Friday I will wonder no more.
That's right, we're going to a masked ball! I am, to put it bluntly, beyond geeked. Rossana has been working on her outfit for months. The last few pieces of my outfit have arrived. Next Saturday we will enter the Zenobio Palace for the Casanova Ball; Night of the Masked Porters
For those who are unfamiliar, Venice was for centuries the party capitol of Europe. Tales of the republics decadence are legendary. At one point Napoleon tried to put a cap on it, as three months of the year and a significant portion of the GDP were being poured into this event. Eventually, Mussolini banned it outright. But Venice would not be denied, and the Grand Celebrations have returned.
There are many events scheduled during the two weeks of Carnival (Or Mardi Gras as its known here). Parades, performances, concerts, operas and of course the Masked Balls. These recall a time when much of Venice wore masks in everyday life. Powerful and well connected men and women conducted their affairs in anonymity. Gambling, attending the theater with one's mistress... If no one knows who you are who can forbid you?
The largest events are the Dogaressa Ball, the Masherenda and the Casanova Ball at the Zenobio. Each event is held in a building dating back at least to the 16th Century. All attendees must wear historical costume. No Ghost Busters or Start Trek outfits here. The costume shops of Venice produce some of the most amazing outfits I have ever seen. And the price is quite high to rent them. This is where Rossana's skills and the kindness of several friends comes in. I am indebted to Mr. Weaver of Authentic Wardrobe for supplying me with a stunning jacket and waistcoat. Blonde Swan hats is making a tri-corn hat for me. The other parts have been make by Rossana and gathered from online and local resources.
For a while, it looked like we wouldn't be attending at all. Last season was somewhat crappy but we managed to pull a few good weekends near the end. Then there was the problem of getting tickets. Rossana tried no less than 5 times to purchase tickets. Each time she was thwarted by a crappy website, a payment system in German and finally Uncle Sam demanding to know every detail of our foreign bank transfer. Several skype calls were placed to make sure we were on the guest list and the apologetic hosts have assured us the various fees we incurred will be refunded and a lovely bottle of Champaign will be presented for our inconvenience. This is all well and good. But it is Monday and the tickets have not yet arrived in the mail. Using google Earth I have found a wall near the back of the Palace. Should things go pear shaped, I am pretty sure we can scale it and gain entrance to the event in a surreptitious manner.
It's been quite a while since I've been to a party, let alone a masked ball. The party doesn't start until 9 and goes (I am told) until dawn. We shall see how long we can endure. There will be performers of all types, much food and drink, dancing (with instruction by a classic dance master). There may also be fireworks!
Alas, our stay in Venice will be a short one. The weather at this time of the year is dreadful and the city is filled with tourists. So not long after the party we fly to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. We've found a tour that will explore Petra and several crusader era castles along with the Dead Sea. It will be quite a change from the decadence of Venice. Is it safe? Well, Jordan does border Iraq in the Al-Anbar province as well as Syria and Israel. But Jordan is a strong US supporter and a pretty stable constitutional monarchy. The State department has no serious red flags as of this writing but who can say.
I will post Facebook and blog posts as internet access allows. I will be taking a crapload of pictures. The party itself is lit by candle light. I don't know how well any shots will come out but I will do my best.