When Carnival first began it was
celebrated from December 26 and reached its climax the
day before Ash Wednesday, also known as "Mardi
Gras". During the period of Carnival it seems that
every excess was permitted and the fact that everyone
wore masks seemed to abolish all social division. All the
campi were thronged with people intent on partying
and carousing, singing, dancing and playing games. The most
common costume (the baùtta) was composed of a
black silk hood, a lace cape, a voluminous cloak (the tabarro),
and a three-cornered hat and a white mask that completely
covered the wearer's face. This allowed revelers to go
around the city incognito. It was useful to go to casini,
places where you could play games of chance.
Since 1980 the celebration of Carnival in Venice has gained popularity. People come from the world over to attend private and public masked balls and masked revelers of all ages invade the campi where music and dancing continues nearly day and night. Theatrical performances and an array of ancient games are organized for the amusement of Venetians and visitors alike.