The festival of Shrove Thursday in St. Mark's Square in VeniceLocal Traditions
The festival of Shrove Thursday in St. Mark's Square in Venice
In Venice, at the time of the Doges, the numerous celebrations of the Carnival were very spectacular.
On the day of Shrove Thursday a kind of wooden machine was set up in Piazzetta San Marco, facing the Doge's Palace, from which colourful fireworks were fired in the evening and also some acrobats demonstrated their ability by performing the ‘forces of Hercules', a sort of human pyramid that rose above a board mounted on benches, while others descended from St Mark's bell tower on cables connected to the dock and the loggia of the Doge's Palace, to complete their flight directly in front of the doge who watched the festivities from the one of the building's windows.
On that occasion, as we can see in this painting by Francesco Guardi in the second half of the 18th century, which is now preserved in the Louvre, a large crowd of villagers crowded in the Piazzetta around the fireworks machine to watch the show, while the nobles and other important guests took a seat in the wooden stand, which was set up at the foot of the Doge's Palace.
If you want to get a better idea of what the ‘forces of Hercules' were and you cannot go to the Louvre, at the Correr Museum in St. Mark's Square, in the room dedicated to games, you can see a model of this amazing skill and balance feat.
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