Venice is home to one of the most famous Carnival celebrations in the world, in addition to one of the oldest. The Carnevale di Venezia) was first recorded in 1268. The subversive nature of the festival is reflected in the many laws created over the centuries attempting to restrict celebrations and often banning the wearing of masks.
Masks have always been a central feature of the Venetian carnival; traditionally people were allowed to wear them between the festival of Santo Stefano, at the start of the Carnival season, and midnight of Shrove Tuesday. As masks were also allowed during Ascension and from October 5 to Christmas, people could spend a large proportion of the year in disguise and hide their behavior from being known.
Mascherari, or Mask Makers, enjoyed a special position in society, with their own laws and their own guild. In 1797 Venice became part of the Austrian-held Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia when Napoleon signed the Treaty of Campo Formio. After the Austrians took control of the city on January 18, 1798, it fell into a decline that effectively brought Carnival celebrations to a halt for almost two centuries. Carnival was outlawed by Mussolini's Fascist government in the 1930s and 1940s. The founding of a modern mask shop in the 1980s helped bring about the revival of Carnival in Venice..................... and the celebrations continue!