Wide view of Venice: Piazza San Marco - Riva degli Schiavoni

MASCHERE ACROBATICHE

(Acrobatic Masks)

… which puts together the transvestitism and the popular fun life of the circus.

Very interesting are these earlier forms of ice skates, made for skating on the iced lagoon canals, thus giving us a good indication of the kind of weather it had to be expected in Venice during Carnival in those days.

The trend of young people walking over the ice in the canals started in January 1230, so Uomo Agile and carts would go over the iced water in the canals, using the kind of skates we see in the image.

We find a reference about how the Canal Grande froze so much in 1431 that a beautiful bride was delivered to her spouse going over the canal with a cart, and in 1788 the whole lagoon in Venice froze and stayed frozen for two weeks.

And there is also a story about those soldiers (Soldati Stradiotti, which were employed in the XV century by Venice to counterattack the light Turk cavalry) which in 1491 would ride with their horses on the iced canal itself.

Watercolor by Giovanni Grevembroch: "Uomo agile" - ski-like shoes
Giovanni Grevembroch: "Uomo agile"
pen, ink & watercolor (18th century)
Museo Correr, Venezia
Watercolorby Giovanni Grevembroch: "Uomo agile" - walking poles
Giovanni Grevembroch: "Uomo agile"
pen, ink & watercolor (18th century)
Museo Correr, Venezia

 

This habit of the high crutches was started from a certain Giovanni Francesco Marinaro d’Istria, who was especially talented in going around with these uncommonly high crutches both on the ground and in the canals.

Some of these high acrobats were seen sometimes in S.Marco Square with 13 feet (!!) wooden acrobat crutches threatening disaster every moment of the exhibition.


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