Venetian Carnival: the Festa delle Marie

The Festa delle Marie is one of the core events of the venetian Carnival: it is the revival of the famous kidnapping and rescue of twelve brides which took place in Venice at the time of the Doge Candiano III. It was 943 and the story is one of the most involving of the venetian long history. Stay with us and keep on reading!!

During the X Century, there was the custom in Venice to choose twelve beautiful girls from the lower classes and to celebrate their weddings with beautiful events and feasts paid by the richest families of the city. However, in 943, some pirates coming from Istria arrived to Venice and kidnapped all the brides in order to still their jewelry and take the beautiful girls with them. The Doge together with a group of very brave men decided to follow the pirates and, near Caorle, he was able to defeat the pirates and to return safely to Venice.

In order to commemorate the rescue, the Doge established the ‘Festa delle Marie’ which was to be celebrated each year with a beautiful procession through the city in order to show to everybody the beauty of the girls and of their elegant clothes, offered by the venetian aristocracy. Together with the procession, the Doge wanted to organise regattas, festivals and events so to give to Venice at eight days festival every year.

The Festa delle Marie, however, slowly fell into oblivion until Bruno Tosi, a well-know director and cultural operator, decided to relaunch the event and he decided to set it as one of the opening event of the Carnival. The beauty of the ladies and of their dresses, as a matter of fact, made it perfect to give to the Carnival the ideal start.

In the modern revival, the ladies are chosen by a jury and the procession with more than 300 participants goes from San Pietro di Castello to San Mark church: the event is fantastic because all the dresses and the ornaments are like the original ones. The climax of the event is in Saint Mark square where there is the declaration of the Maria of the year.

This year the event will take place on 3rd February: get all the information you need at


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