” Angel Flight .The name come from an real fly during the carnival in 1500 when a young turkish acrobat , was the protagonist of an action never seen before in Venice. From a boat anchored on the quay of the Piazzetta (San Marco), the acrobat was able to get up to the belfry of the San Marco bell tower, walking only on a rope . This strange performance took place on Maundy Thursday , the first day of the carnival ,with the Piazza San Marco crowded in the presence of the Doge and the nobilty.
This spectacular feat , was immediately called the “turkish flight” (Svolo del turco) ,and the event was scheduled as official ceremony for subsequent editions” .The flight (Svolo ) was always repeated by professional acrobats , until , some ” Arsenalotti ” ( the workers of the shipyards of the Arsenale ) wanted to prove themselves , traning so hard to become, over the centuries, the specialized team in that undertaking.
For many years the show, keeping the same name , was performed only by professional artists ,but was challenged also by young Venetians , demonstrating skill and courage with many variations on the theme .
The artist had to climb the rope from the quay, up to the bell tower ;get down with spins up to the loggia of the Palazzo Ducale where the Doge , along with all political power and foreign ambassadors , receive from his hands a bunch of flowers or cards with the sonnets ; and finally return to the bell tower.
Often in exchange for the bouquet of flowers , the Doge rewarded the ” Turkish ” with a sum of money .Decades later, the acrobats who wrestled on that enterprise were replaced with an artist,who , “hanging on to the rope with rings , was brought down at great speed along the rope,with a pair of wings on his back “.
Thus was born the Angel Flight , a practice abandoned in 1759 when the show turned into tragedy ” Nane Bailo , a member of a famous Venezian family, crashed on the ground into the crowd in horror .” It was probably because of these incidents , the flight ,was forbidden and the acrobat was replaced by a large wooden dove , descending , and scattered flowers and confetti over the crowd .In that way the accidents on the rope were eliminated ,( not bode well for the acrobat ); was born the belief that a flight without incident is a good omen for the carnival , and a new name name :the
Flight of the Dove .
In modern Venice Carnival , it was decided to re-insert the Angel Flight ,in the version of the Flight of the Dove .It is held on the first Sunday of the carnival,and is one of the main events : a mechanical bird drops down from the Campanile di San Marco to the Palazzo Ducale. Halfway a trapdoor from the belly, opened and free candy and confetti ,down over the crowd.
This tradition has continued to this day , but since 2001 it has returned to the old formula of the Angel Flight , the Colombina is replaced by a real woman who makes the descent from the bell tower to the square firmly secured to a metal cable .
The artist makes his descent from the belfry of the tower sliding slowly toward the ground,
suspended in the air above the crowd that fills the space below .
The ” Angel flight” have the protagonist the winner of the Mary contest from the previous year, is generally played at noon on the first Sunday of celebration and opens the most important week of Carnival.
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