Venice Carnival starts amid 'coronavirus and high tide fears
It's Venice carnival time again. Beware the masked faces lurking near the gondolas and the ancient buildings.
The event first started in the 9th century but was entirely outlawed by the Holy Roman Emperor, Francis II in the 18th century. It was then brought back in the late 1970s and it leads nicely into the Roman Catholic period of Lent.
The masks come in all shapes, sizes, designs and colours. Some even make their own.
The main appeal to wearing a mask is to allow yourself to be whomever you want for just a short period of time.
The carnival will last until February the 25th and it attracts even more tourists to the busy tourist city than usual.
This year, however, the picturesque Italian town seems to be less packed than normal.
As regional newspaper Il Gazzettino reports, hotels in Venice - which tend to be almost sold out over this period - got only an average 70% of their rooms booked.
According to the newspaper, this might be due to mixed fears over the coronavirus epidemic and the 'acqua alta' (high-tide), which severely hit Venice last Autumn, causing relevant infrastructural damage.
Some events even got cancelled. Others, like 'Il Ballo Del Doge' (The Dance of the Doge) - one of the most important moments of the carnival - had their attendance number halved.
This year's Venice carnival, however, will also be remembered as the first one to use a highly technological system that will count how many tourists will walk into specific areas at a specific time, Il Gazzettino also reports.
Venetian authorities said this will help them know more about how tourists move within the city in order to study how they use its different spaces.
No risk for privacy violations, though, as no facial recognition system will be used.