A Surprise Masquerade Ball in Venice

The Bird-Man of Venice

Who would know that our day in Venice would become ripe with intrigue? Imagine, if you will, four mild-mannered women with a love for Italian culture and lifestyle who have just met in Venice for the first time. Immediately engaged in delightful chatter over a lovely breakfast in a most intimate little hotel, it never occurred to us that our day was about to take on such a playful and adventurous turn.

Although our table is just a bit disheveled, we engage in lively conversation while discussing plans for the day. L to R is Orna O’Reilly, myself, Margie Miklas and Victoria DeMaio, great friends as well as talented fellow bloggers (click on names to see their sites).

After breakfast, we embark upon a short and winding walk along the stony streets of Venice to Ca’Macana, one of the oldest and finest mask-making workshops. We have decided to choose and decorate our own masks in the old Venetian way.


Just inside the shop we are greeted with floor to ceiling masks of all shapes and colors. Feathers, plumes and jewels embellish them with a great respect to tradition. I’m instantly captivated by this enormous display of colorful and creative art. A chest lies open lined with little masks of various sizes and patterns. Animal masks are everywhere and seem to be a favorite.


These authentic masks are crafted just as they were 800 years ago by Venetian artisans. There is no end to the creative possibilities involved in mask decor. Patterned cloth wound and curled about the top and sides brings on a whole new persona.


The walls are filled with a menagerie of bells, snouts, plumes and curlicues. I’m especially intrigued by the bird-man with his flat top hat and dark shroud covering. Very mysterious. I wouldn’t want to run into him on a dark and rainy night.



The workshop where we chose our masks and painted them with the assistance of Fiorella, our most engaging and knowledgable instructor

My own little mask is small and elegant. After I choose my paint colors and apply them, it is time to use a hair dryer to finish up the drying process. Afterwards I pick my embellishments of jewels and feathers.

Just need a few plumes and jewels, and I’m ready to party

Our masks are finished and we couldn’t be more delighted. We had a ball of our own right inside the little shop among the spooky phantoms and funny animal snouts. All eyes were on us, and we could have danced the day away. Had the sky not decided to let down a pour of rain the moment we stepped outside the shop after saying our goodbyes, we would have donned our masks and continued our party right down through the streets of Venice.

Our finished masks are ready to wear

For more information about Ca’Macana mask shop in Venice, click here ~