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The history of the flight from St Mark's bell tower during the Venice Carnival

Local Traditions

The history of the flight from St Mark's bell tower during the Venice Carnival

On 3 February 2013, on the second Sunday of the Venice Carnival, people will gather in St. Mark's Square to witness the famous flight of the angel. The winner of the 'Marie' beauty contest will launch herself from St Mark's bell tower attached to a rope to reach the Doge's Palace.

But not everyone knows that this flight has a very ancient tradition and is in a sense, tragic. In fact, in the mid-sixteenth century, during the Venice Carnival, a young Turkish acrobat succeeded, aided only by a balance pole, to get to the belfry of St Mark's bell tower, walking on a long rope that started from a boat anchored by the quay of the pier. On his descent, he reached the balcony of the Doge's Palace, and handed some gifts to the Doge.

After the spectacular success of this spectacle, now called Svolo del turco, the event, which usually took place on Maundy Thursday, was requested and programmed to be part of an official ceremony for later events using similar techniques and formats that were developed and modified over the years.

But in 1759, the show ended in tragedy. On one occasion, the acrobat crashed into the horrified crowd. Because of this serious incident, the original format of the event was forbidden. Since then, the acrobat was replaced by a large wooden dove that similarly started from the bell tower, and as it descended threw flowers and confetti on the crowd.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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