Between the most traditional Venetian costumes and Masks we find the Bauta, a white mask covering almost the whole face, with a black cloak and a tricorn hat. This mask was very popular in Venice and was worn both by men and women because it guaranteed total anonymity as it allowed the wearer to eat and drink without having to remove the mask.
Another traditional mask was the moretta, an oval mask of black velvet with a veil that was usually worn by women visiting convents and was attached to the woman's face thanks to a button held between the teeth.
The Mattacino is another typical mask of Venice. He is a sort of clown, dressed in white or multi-colored, famous for firing "perfumed eggs" from slingshots to the people who was passing in the street.
Traditional Venetian masks But the mask found its official consecration in the theatres: with the 16th century theatre, and later with the most famous Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni, some of the most popular characters of the Commedia dell'Arte, the italian popular form of improvisational theater, also called "comedy of humors", became actual stereotypes, perfectly reflecting Venetian society.
Between the primary Commedia dell'Arte characters we find Pantalone, the rich and miserly merchant, Arlecchino, a funny peasant and illiterate character, acrobat and clown, always dressed with a colorful clothing, Colombina, the maidservant and eternal lover of Arlecchino, and Pulcinella, another comic servant character, as Arlecchino, typical of Naples.
Nowadays Venetian masks re-emerged as the emblem of the Venice Carnival and most of them are made in gesso with a gold leaf and are all hand-painted or decorated with natural feathers and gems.
During the modern Carnival Saint Mark's Square and the other main campi of Venice become the perfect stages for those who wish to be, at least for a few hours a year, protagonists of another life.
In fact, during the last days of Carnival, Venice teems with people wearing all kind of masks and disguises, happily invading streets and squares in search of fun: it’s possible to meet every kind of costume, from the 18th century noblewomen, to the most inventive and creative personalised modern costumes.