In modern times, Venice has become a tourist's hub which frequently lacks quality and genuine experiences. A number of souvenirs shops do not sell good products, the same goes for restaurants and cafés. The trick is to know where to go, but only locals are aware of that. Venice has the privilege to host a unique mask shop,Ca' Macana Venezia that truly proposes a wide range of those handmade carnival features.
In 2010 I bought around 45 mini masks to send them to Sydney. They were used by my cousin as bonbonniere for her wedding.
When you enter the store you see the counter adorned with those artistic gems (have in mind that each one is unique, as they are handmade objects).It's hard to choose between all of the different masks; the ceramic with pink decorations, rather than the one with the blues combination, or the harlequin themed one and so on.
You can find your perfect size in several styles: from the geometrical rhombus to the music note, the perfectly matched colours and styles are essential for these masks. I love the pink, red and lilac hues, by the way.
Anyway, don't waste time; you will buy them all later. Just turn your face you'll see how strong and limitless is the power of the master artisans working here.
These masks are marvellous and they repeat the feather element. Try one of them for a Casanova party, or the Mardi Gras celebrations, or simply, to feel like the beautiful and frilled princess Marie-Antoinette in her eighteenth-century Rococo' palace.
The yellow eye-mask is made with an old-rose fabric bordered by sequins and studs and it presents a bushy combination of feathers, perhaps at her best when juxtaposed with the dark one in blue plumage, while red tufts are raising behind. The heavy baroque styled masks are hanging from a corner of the photo: detailed in carmine and gold, with the addition of a flower they are quite regal.
There are simpler masks available as well, but they don't quite match some of the more extravagant styles. I supposed they can give life to courtiers and unfaithful servants who can easily poison your glass of red wine.
We reach magnificence and opulence by trying on the candid plumages: who is reflecting in the mirror? A rigid queen or an extraordinary swan? Relaxing afterwards in a buoyant and self-confident lilac face, embellished by chunks of brilliant stones.
Noblewomen are here represented in another variation too. Elegant and snobbish they scrutinize you. In greenish, reddish and a stroke of canary they present themselves with thick black embroidery and a flower pinned in the laced veil. So chic!
Let's play posh: take a green and blue mask and have fun. Pretend to be a bride with glamorous eyes in a spotted design, behind you, the audience is witnessing at your wedding. Or a blue dame with a rose upon her head, free and independent, blessed by the refulgent moon and sun that accompany your journeys.
For wild and adventurous spirits, cat masks are also available in this boutique. You will find them around the walls; pay attention and be patient: they are waiting for you. Meow!
They are hiding under a mirror frame, disguising themselves in rococo figures and cascades of lively enamels. Moreover, they can be caught among sad and cropped faces, varnished in floral, wavy and shiny decorations.
Following the Venetian tradition, papier-mâché masks are recalling the old characters of the 700s. You'll get a glimpse at the plague doctors, greedy merchants, luminous jokers, Commedia actors, Punch and Harlequin, popes, doges and oriental personages.
Consider how much effort the artisans have put in making the huge crowns of that masks resembling a Pope and an Egyptian figure. The former is in black and the latter is in gold, lilac and orange, transmitting peaceful and majesty at the same time.
Enormous giants are created, I believe, to furnish homes and ceremony venues as well. They are hung up in the walls. Roman portraits, natural elements like the sun and the moon blended together, faces with golden spiked hair, a mysterious entity which has Venice depicted in the front.
Ca' Macana provides a good website in which you can shopping online, book for courses and follow the latest news in its blog. The showroom provides a service to paint your owns mask (just ask on site), while the masking and courses and the showroom and booking shops are located not so far from the touristic itinerary. Moreover, it has to be said that the boutique supplied Stanley Kubrick in the making of Eyes Wide Shut. Thus, anyone should pay them a visit.