La Festa delle Marie (The Festival of the Marias)

This part of the Venetian Carnevale has its roots in 944, when 12 brides, and their dowries, were taken by Istrian pirates, in a raid on the church of San Pietro in Castello.

Now, 12 young women are chosen to play the part of these brides in a ceremony that today began in the Telecom Future Centre, then wound its way from San Pietro to Piazza San Marco. The pretty young Marie smiled through the cool, rainy weather.

To welcome us into the Telecom Centre, this hurdy-gurdy player provided cheery music.

Here are some of Marie and their “supporting cast”.

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Filed under Venice

23 responses to “La Festa delle Marie (The Festival of the Marias)

  1. You got some wonderful photos Y! The new costumes are stunning!


    • I was so grateful to have read about their appearance at the Telecom Future Centre. Aren’t those dresses stunning! But, I do wish it had been a nicer day for all concerned.


  2. Bridget

    Great pictures Yvonne! Thank you for braving the crowds. 🙂 Would love to have been there to see the Maries myself, – even with the weather and crowds! some day…


    • Hello, Bridget. I stayed far away from Piazza San Marco, but the preliminaries in the Telecom Future Centre, and then the parade starting at the Chiesa San Pietro are far more accessible. It was such a pity about the bad weather.


  3. Bert

    “Some of the Marie will be carried by …” – I can’t see the rest of that sentence. I hang on your every word, Yvonne, so I don’t want to miss any. [I tried to work “miss (L) any” into that, but I had to give it up as a bad job.]


  4. MaryK

    Looking at the Piazza webcam just now, I think that staying far away from there is an excellent plan. It’s PACKED!


    • It seems that there are even more people than usual in Venice today! I bumped into Caroline and Phil Jones on the Zattere and had a calm spritz in the sun with them.

      Now, I’m off to Castello to see what the children are up to, in their special Carnevale.


  5. To commemorate the recovery of the brides from Castello the Serenissima used to pay the dowry of 12 poor young girls, two per sestiere, who were paraded during the Festa delle Marie. As it became too expensive to pay so many dowries, the real girls were replaced by wooden dolls which were also paraded through the city. It’s the believed that the term marionette may have evolved from them. It’s great that Venice brought back such a festivity even if it’s original significance is so alien to us today.
    Great post Yvonne, as always.


  6. This is making me very excited! Great shots Yvonne….as usual..


  7. What a lovely post Yvonne and beautiful women. Are there any going spare ? 😉 Ralph xox 😀


  8. Love the dresses! And the Maries are lovely too.


  9. The girls all look so lovely. Something to be said for the beautiful dresses as opposed to jeans and t-shirts.


  10. Andrew

    Is the girl who is voted the most beautiful required to act as La Colomba for the flight?


    • I’m not sure how that works these days, Andrew. Before, they had celebrities of some description, but I think you might be right. It’s a case of being first might not be the best idea! It was so cold and wet for the poor lasses and their entourage.


    • I did some more reading, Andrew, and yes, the young lady chosen as the Maria this year will have the privilege of stepping off the campanile next year!


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