A Colorful Dove, with Great Fanfare, Launches Carnevale in Venice


carnevale, Italywise

Il lancio della colombina – the launch of the dove kicks off Carnevale 2017

Man, was I lucky this year (2017) to have a front row seat for the official kick-off of Carnevale in Venice. Life keeps offering up these incredible opportunities. This time it came in the form of a pass into the “inner circle” at the heart of the official Carnevale launch, Sunday, February 19. But, let’s first back up to the adventure of arriving in Venice and making our way to Piazza San Marco.

If you’re brave (or crazy) enough to put yourself in the midst of the spectacle of Carnevale’s first official day, be prepared to go early and patiently navigate the crowds.

This is no small matter. If you don’t like crowds or cramped spaces, I’d advise you to stay home and watch the events on TV. I’m not a fan of crowds, but being six-two, at least my head is above most of the crowd. As long as I can breathe I can vanquish my anxieties of tight spaces.

Carnevale, Italywise

Patiently waiting a security check on the way to Piazza San Marco

The big event, Il lancio della colombina (also called The Flight of the Angel), was scheduled for noon. We arrived at the Santa Lucia train station at nine-thirty, and promptly made our way to the vaporetto stop, where we queued for at least half an hour. Four vaporetti later, and we were on board. The journey to the San Marco stop took at least forty-five minutes. Our progress was impeded when the boat was halted to make way for a regatta with a police escort.

I was ready to hop off and make a beeline to the center of the piazza. But, oh no, we came to a virtual standstill at a small bridge heading over to our destination. Why? A security check by the police (being “wanded” and having bags checked). Instead of being upset, I was impressed by the magnitude of this endeavor, and the patience of the police.

Just past eleven we were weaving our way through the throngs of eager spectators to the guarded

Carnevale, Italywise

My ticket into the inner sanctum of festivities.

entrance of the special area for press and sponsors. I was handed my guest pass, and soon we were “court-side” to one of the most fantastic events I’ve ever had the good fortune to witness.

I’d come equipped with my faithful 70-200mm f2.8 Canon lens. I quickly staked out a spot next to the barricade lining the path for the upcoming procession, and just thirty feet from the stage.

Then I went bananas, snapping away…

I scanned the crowd and began trying to capture the enormity of the event. I started with the four hosts on the stage, who were camping it up, and working the crowd into a frenzy of anticipation.

Carnevale, Italywise

One of the event’s hosts

Time vanished as my right brain took over and attempted to absorb and capture as much as possible.

I did pause, for a few minutes, to stare at the thick cable over my head that had been strung from the Campanile di San Marco to the stage. I thought to myself “There’s no way in hell I would make that journey, no matter how strapped in and secured I would be.” My entire body tensed at the thought of it. This was going to be one brave young woman – or at least one who’d gobbled up a couple of Valium.

Carnevale, Italywise

Pomp and circumstance, and prolific pageantry

And the procession began…

Imagine, with San Marco as a backdrop, a parade of the most exquisite and colorful costumes. Now I know what it’s like to be in a crowd of paparazzi competing for the best vantage point. Thank goodness my height gives me a competitive advantage, but I had to work around people using their iPads held WAY over their heads to take videos of the event. That was a challenge, but I’m happy with the results (over six hundred images after my edit).

The main event – il lancio della columbina (also called The Flight of the Angel)

The launch of the dove from the bell tower is considered to be the official kick-off of Carnevale. By noon the crowd was ripe for the appearance of this year’s dove. My long lens served as a telescope to get a more intimate view of la colombina being lifted up and above the railing. Soon Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” was being played and the dove began her descent.

Her composure was something to behold

There was no fear in the dove’s body language. In fact, as she slowly made her journey to the stage, she rotated gracefully with arms out-stretched. Even how she released her confetti was executed with great elegance. Surely she’d been preparing in earnest for her debut. I was impressed.

When the dove of Carnevale 2017 made her touch-down, the confetti exploded, and the crowd went wild. I challenge anyone to attend this event and NOT become emotional.

Before this big event, several beautiful young “doves in waiting” were interviewed on stage. One will be next year’s dove. How exactly the dove for Carnevale 2018 is chosen is beyond me. Several expressed their nervousness for making the dramatic descent, so maybe such timidity will take them out of the running.

Next week’s post features many of the costumes on display! Stay tuned!

I would be overwhelming you if I attempted to include images of the stunning costumes on display during the day. So, I hope you’ll check out next week’s post. If you’re not already a subscriber, be sure to sign up. That way future posts will land directly in your inbox!






By |2017-02-21T23:20:34+01:00February 21st, 2017|A Romance with Venice|18 Comments

About the Author:

I’m an American expat living in Italy!


  1. Susan February 27, 2017 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    Those colors Jed are just the thing needed to chase away the winter blues. Thank you.

    • Jed February 28, 2017 at 9:50 am - Reply

      Prego! Spring is waiting, around the corner. My experience at Carnevale has helped me manage the winter blues! Miss you guys!

  2. Laurie February 22, 2017 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    My cousin who lives in Scotland was so impressed with this blog, she sent it to me. Eager to see more images.

    • Jed February 22, 2017 at 9:17 pm - Reply

      That’s great to hear! Loads more images coming next Tuesday!

  3. Dale Henslee February 22, 2017 at 2:51 am - Reply

    Jed, you are so fortunate to have had a front row seat to witness this magnificent spectacle. I do so wish I could have been there with you. Maybe one day I can. I love reading your colorful and delightful description of the events. Love the photos and can’t wait to see more. Love you, sweetie!

    • Jed February 22, 2017 at 9:19 pm - Reply

      Believe me, I know how fortunate I was. Maybe one year we can do this together, as long as we take sedatives, or have a glass of wine to help “chill” us as we navigate the crowds. Love you too, Doodlebug.

  4. Kathy Guenther February 21, 2017 at 7:57 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for these photos and story. Only one international TV channel here in Las Vegas had coverage of the descending dove. We don’t like crowds either, but we could set that aside for a beautiful experience!!!
    From Kathy & Ed Guenther (friends of Christine Cutler)

    • Jed February 21, 2017 at 8:13 pm - Reply

      Hi Kathy and Ed, I’m so glad you like the story. I was heaven, even though I was so overwhelmed by so much going on around me. Amazing what fears we’ll surmount when it comes to having a one-of-a-kind experience!

  5. Robin Fink February 21, 2017 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    WOW! This is so incredible, and thank you for capturing these images- looking forward to more. What an amazing experience.

    • Jed February 21, 2017 at 8:11 pm - Reply

      Grazie Robin! I still can’t believe I was there for such an amazing experience – and with beautiful weather (not like last year’s event I hear!). Hope to see you soon!

  6. Nancy February 21, 2017 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    This event is surely the perfect one to describe as spectacular! What a wonderful opportunity for you to witness it all. Something else for you to be thankful for to Liz and Ed…your height. She would have been totally excited knowing you were able to attend. Can’t wait to see more pictures.

    • Jed February 21, 2017 at 6:26 pm - Reply

      Thanks for writing, Nancy! Momma Liz would’ve been over the moon with excitement if she could have witnessed this. I can only imagine the countless sketches and paintings she would do. And, yes, thanks to Liz and Ed for somehow making me the tallest person on both sides of the family!

  7. kathryn February 21, 2017 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    this is awesome!!! thank you for sharing / i feel like i was there with you somehow. ?❤

    • Jed February 21, 2017 at 6:24 pm - Reply

      You, my dear, would have been on fire with creative ideas flying around! Maybe one day we can witness this together! Can’t wait to see you next paintings!

  8. kathy carrier February 21, 2017 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    What a thrill!! As if Venice isn’t magical enough under normal circumstances… wow! Can’t wait to see more images!!

    • Jed February 21, 2017 at 6:23 pm - Reply

      Yes Kathy, I have to keep pinching myself. Wait to you see next week’s photo of the costumes. I may have to do two additional posts!

  9. Joee Balestrieri February 21, 2017 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    Che Meraviglia! Lo adoro! Non vedo l’ora per alla prossima!

    • Jed February 21, 2017 at 6:22 pm - Reply

      Grazie mille! Adesso ho bisogno di scegliere da un oceano di immagini! Quasi impossibile!

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