The Carnival, then, began three days in advance with dances in the Court of the Fondaco dei Turchi. The Venetians have always been passionate dancers and there were many places for dancing entertainment, the most famous being that of the Zattere, but they also danced in the courtyards of the monasteries (allowed only before sunset).
They organized “dance parties in the campiello”, for a fee, as recalled in the painting by Gabriel Bella: “Festa gives money in Campielo” a glimpse of Venetian life and its parties. Cheerful dances of young people in the small square, the pipe smoker with “velada”, tricorn and the very long pipe; the players near the lineup.
The ‘young people’ were looking for some ‘forest’ mask, coming from outside, to show her the beauties and attractions of the city, of the party, and also something else.
Not a few ladies of the aristocracy who went down incognito, with costumes that were not too sumptuous not to be recognized, who did not disdain, indeed went hunting, some ‘rustego’ gancér willing and ready to hook her. The next day, then, the ladies chatted to each other, confided in fleeting adventures and always ended up envying the tose de calle who could have it freely with those touches of marcantonio!
For their part, zoveni and non zoveni, paroni de sessola or gondolieri, poarets or great lords tried to have fun, above all to ‘vary.
The Fat Thursday party was held in Piazzetta S. Marco. It was the celebration of an important victory of the Serenissima Republic, against the patriarch Ulrico, devoted to the emperor, due to a bull of Pope Adrian IV who assigned all of Dalmatia to the Patriarchate of Grado. Taking advantage of the ongoing war between Venice and the cities of Padua and Ferrara, Ulrico, aided by the feudal lords of Carinthia and Friuli, attacked the city of Grado and forced the patriarch Enrico Dandolo to flee.
Doge Vitale Michiel II did not take long to repair the outrage, he aimed the powerful Venetian fleet towards Grado, defeating the poor patriarch Ulrich and the twelve rebel feudal lords, thus annihilating all their pride. Taken to Venice, through the Pope’s intercession, they were released, but Venice asked as compensation that every year on Fat Thursday the Patriarch of Aquileia sent a bull and twelve well-fed pigs to the Venetians. The animals were then welcomed as prisoners in the Doge’s Palace, placed on top of wooden reconstructions representing the Friulian…