The Flight of the Angel in Venice is such an iconic and traditional event that you certainly would not miss.
If you are coming to Venice in the second or third month of the year (every year the dates change), you could have the chance to see the amazing Flight of the Angel.
In this article, we are going to tell you why this event is so important, what it represents and its history. We are also going to give you some detailed info about where you can see it and how.
Please read the article to the end because there is an important news 2023!
The Flight of the Angel Venice: a spectacular opening ceremony
If you have jumped into this article you probably already know that this event is part of Carnival celebrations.
The Flight of the Angel, in fact, it's the ceremony that officially opens its crazy and colorful celebrations.
Most of the people here in Venice call this event "Volo della Colombina" instead of "Volo dell'Angelo", but it is actually the same beautiful event.
We are now going deep into the history of this event, telling you the story of how it originated. The story deals with the powerful Serenissima republic and a young Turkish acrobat.
The History of the Flight of the Angel in Venice
As we've anticipated, we have to go back in time to tell you the origin of this event.
The origin of the "Flight of the Turkish"
During the Serenissima period, in fact, around the 16th century, during the Carnival celebrations, a young Turkish acrobat succeeded in a really bold venture. Dozens of people, crowded in Piazza San Marco, were looking at his performance with astonished eyes.
He was a tightrope walker who, starting from the small Piazzetta San Marco (where the two monumental columns are located), managed to climb up to the bell cell of the San Marco Bell Tower. He just used a barbell, while the rope, on which he was walking, was held in tension by a boat placed in St. Mark's Basin.
Then he performed another crazy walk. In fact, he reached the loggia of the Doge's Palace, still walking on the robe, and he paid his respects to the Doge, who was waiting for him.
All the attendees went mad at the sight of such bravery and skill so that they ask for the repetition of the event.
Fast forward, this is precisely what actually happened: from that day on, the Carnival was inaugurated with what was renamed the "svolo del turco" (Flight of the Turkish) .
The Flight of the Turkish becomes the "Flight of the Angel"
At the beginning, the performance was being done by professional tightrope walkers, usually Venetians. Then, many young people, who wanted to show off their courage, also attempted the feat.
From the 18th century, the tightrope walker was hooked with metal rings to a rope and made to descend to the Doge's Palace. There, the Doge himself rewarded his skill with gifts and money.
With this new harness, the protagonist of the event started to seem like an angel to the eyes of the crowd: that's why the event started to be called the "Svolo dell'angelo" (Flight of the Angel, in Italian).
the performance changed over time: the "flight of the Colombina"
The Flight of the Angel was held every day till 1759. That year, in fact, the exhibition ended in tragedy, with the man falling to the ground and dying in front of dozens of citizens.
From that moment on, the acrobat was replaced by a large wooden dove that flew from the Bell tower and freed confetti and flowers to the crowd.
That was the occasion for a new name change: the new flight was called the "Svolo della colombina" (flight of the Colombina).
However, like for many other traditions and events, it all ended with the end of the Serenissima period.
The Flight of the Angel today
The beginning of the 21st century (precisely in 2001), together with the revival of Carnival, was also the moment for the historical re enactments of this amazing flight!
Instead of organizing it on Shrove Thursday, the unique event takes place on the second Sunday of Carnival, being the official opening ceremony.
However, there is something from the past ceremonies.
No longer the flight ends at the Doge's Palace, but in the heart of Piazza San Marco. To welcome the angel, there is a stage built for the occasion where the "Doge and his court" await.
Many famous personalities have embodied the angel over time. Some athletes, like Federica Pellegrini or Frida Scarpa, but also singers and models.
The "Angel" is usually the winner of the Marie Contest of the previous year!
Flight of the Angel Venice 2023
The Flight of the Angel has always been held in Saint Mark's square.
Hundreds of people (probably thousands) every year come to Venice to experience the Flight of the Angel.
However, in 2023 the plan has changed.
In order to make Carnival an event celebrated throughout the whole Municipality of Venice, this year the event won't be held in Piazza San Marco, even because many parts of it are going through renovation.
Instead of the Flight of the Angel, many other events will take place: the Marie contest, the costume parades, night shows and so on!