One of my Most Memorable Experiences in Venice
Mask Painting in Venice
Mask painting in Venice. Venice is one of my favorite places and what I like best about it is that it is unique—no other place in the world is like it.
Aside from the many touristy sights, which are must-sees for the first-time traveler, I prefer to find the out-of-the way places and experience different activities.
For quite a while I have wanted to try my hand at mask-making, and the Venetians are experts in this craft. I’ve always loved seeing the elaborate masks and costumes for Carnevale, even though I have never been to Venice during that festive celebration.
The wearing of masks in Venice actually originates during the 13th century when the first laws were passed to regulate masks. Venetians wore masks not only during the Carnevale period in February and March, but throughout the year in their everyday lives.
One of the oldest and most respected mask making workshops in Venice is Cà Macana. Here the mask-makers “craft authentic handmade masks in the same way Venetian artisans would do 800 years ago.”
The 1999 Hollywood Stanley Kubrick film, Eyes Wide Shut, starring Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, featured masks created at Cà Macana.
Stuff to do in Venice Italy
I asked three of my friends who live in Venice, including native Italian Monica Cesarato, what they had heard about this workshop, and they all gave it a thumbs up. So I decided that Cà Macana was definitely the place to go, not that I have any experience or ability in painting. I was eager to try it and learn something.
What made this even better was that three other Italy bloggers, whom I knew from social media, joined me. Victoria De Maio, Susan Nelson, Orna O’ Reilly, and I met up in Venice, and the four of us participated in the mask-making course together. The day tuned out to be one of the most fun and memorable experiences I have had in Venice.
What began as a sunny day had now changed to rain so this was a perfect time to be inside a Venetian workshop. I was fascinated by the selection of masks from elegant, to scary, to fun.
After admiring all the masks at the showroom, we were escorted down the street to the workshop, where the lovely Fiorella instructed us to select our paper mache white masks and don our aprons. The entire shop was so colorful with photos of completed masks on the walls and dozens of bottles of paints.
The atmosphere was light and fun as we set to work. I chose the traditional full face mask known as the volto. Susan and Orna chose the half-mask known as dama, and Victoria chose the gatto, in the shape of a cat.
Fiorella asked us to choose a few colors of paint and then she dished them out onto plastic dinner plates for each of us. I choose magenta, pink, and purple. We began to paint the first color with a large paintbrush similar to what one might use to paint woodwork in a house.
After that we moved to another area where we used hair dryers to dry the paint. I was surprised that such simple tools were used to create these decorative masks. Once the first coat was dry we added a second color with the same type of brush but Fiorella instructed us to speckle it and she demonstrated the technique.
Surprisingly the mask took on a completely new look. Once more we had to dry this phase with the hair dryers. Everyone’s masks were looking good and we were laughing and taking photos as if we had been long-time friends. The atmosphere was light and I was having a great time.
We then began adding detail with small artist brushes and dried our masks once again. Surprisingly mine was turning out much better than I had anticipated. They all looked great! Fiorella was encouraging and pleasant and that made this experience even better.
We completed the masks and then Fiorella painted on some clear varnish after which we were sent back to the hair dryers for the final time. We then chose decorative accents such as rhinestones, feathers, and ribbons and we were finished. In one hour we had painted our own masks, which we would have as special Venetian souvenirs.
Fiorella handed each of us a book to take home. Maschere a Venezia by Mario Belloni details the history and techniques of mask-making in Venice. Ciao Fiorella and grazie for a pleasurable time!
Contact Cà Macana by email email@example.com or phone +39 041 5203229
Address: Dorsoduro 3172 30123
Margie Miklas is an American writer living in Florida, with a passion for travel, and especially, Italy. She writes the blog, margieinitaly, where you can follow her travels in Italy. She is the author of Memoirs of a Solo Traveler – My Love Affair with Italy, My Love Affair with Sicily, and the recently released photo book, Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast. You can also find her on Twitter , Pinterest, Instagram, and FaceBook.