Wide view of Venice: Piazza San Marco - Riva degli Schiavoni


(The Masks Strip)

This was every year the official start for the Carnival of Venice.

By law everybody was allowed to wear a mask, and so the population of Venice in mass, well dressed, the face well hidden by an elegant mask, took the traditional showoff walk in Campo Santo Stefano.

"Liston" means in Venetian dialect "the path", "the strip". It is a way of describing that strip of the city where everybody was, the cool folks go to appear.

The traditional Liston later moved toward St. Mark's Square, due to space reasons, Campo Santo Stefano is relatively small.

This was the special time when everybody was showing off all their richness, silk, gold and precious stones. And after the walk (back and forth downtown) the hype was going to a special restaurant, or to the Theater.

There is a modern Italian expression for this kind of appearing that gives the exact idea: "fare le vasche" (back and forth in the pool).

"In questa guisa si veggono le maschere in Vinegia nel Carnovale, d’ogni qualita di persone le quali sogliono quasi tutte alle hore 23 ridursi
sulla piazza di san stefano, é quivi passeggiando tratenersi fino a quasi due hore di notte"

"In this way can be seen the masks in Venice
during Carnival, every kind of persons
that use to get together at 11:00 P.M.
in the St. Stefano Square, and here they stay, taking a walk until two hours of the night"

Engraving by Giacomo Franco: "Liston di maschere in Campo S.Stefano" - 1610
Giacomo Franco: "Liston di maschere in Campo S.Stefano"
(Masks Strip in Campo S.Stefano) - engraving (1610)

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