Venice Unmasked for Mardi Gras: Four Shops To Visit For Carnival Masks

You Can’t Mask a Bad Mask!


Throughout the Mardi Gras season, many cities across the globe adorn costumes and masks. Venice is perhaps the most skilled in the mask department. It is no wonder, as some form of carnival has existed here since the 13th century. Masks served as an integral aspect to carnival, providing the average Giuseppe with anonymity and the chance to be a whole new character along the city of canals. And while the mask-making tradition has only been recently revived in Venice over the last few decades, sometimes it can be hit or miss as to the quality of masks in town. If you’ve got discount airfare to Venice for this year’s Carnival celebration or you just want to look the part, go searching for these faces of the Venetian mask-making trade.

La Bottega dei Mascareri:
Located just a stone’s throw away from the Rialto Bridge, La Bottega dei Mascareri is very much like stepping into Venice’s old world. Begun in 1984, this mask shop prides itself on producing authentic masks in keeping with the old traditions. La Bottega dei Mascareri is run by two brothers, Sergio and Massimo Boldrin. Those looking for a quality carnival mask will find plenty here including the Commedia dell’arte masks. These stunners provide a nice face covering, harking back to 18th century Venice. La Bottega dei Mascareri is also known for producing masks for esteemed theatrical performances.

Il Canovaccio: For those in search of papier-mâché paradise, you need look no further than Il Canovaccio. This Venetian shop was founded in 1995 and specializes in the art of papier-mâché. Located just five minutes from St. Mark’s Square, Il Canovaccio honors the old and new traditions taking place in mask-making. And a visit here seems like the rock star move. Rolling Stones guitarist, Ron Wood, reportedly has shopped around this Venetian artisan shop. Visitors to Venice can also arrange to have a demonstration or partake in a mask-making class by appointment.

Tragicomica: If you want a dash of both costumes and masks, Tragicomica supplies. Masks and costumes are made here accordingly to traditional values. Tragicomica provides a unique hands-on experience as a mask-maker in Venice. You can see the classic Venetian souvenir come to life right before you in one of the shop’s demonstrations.

Ca’ Macana: Founded in 1984, Ca’ Macana was one of the catalysts for bringing back the tradition of Venetian mask-making. As one of Venice’s oldest workshops, Ca’ Macana stays true to tradition by making and painting all of its masks by hand as it was in Venice 800 years ago. Ca’ Macana has been coordinating with tour operators and just regular travelers to offer traditional courses in mask-making at its work place. You can see and learn about the different phases of production that go into each and every mask.

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