|Elisa Constantini takes to the air in the ’flight of the angels’, a highlight of the Venice Carnival. — AFP Photo|
VENICE — Twenty thousand revellers, wearing masks and colourful period costumes, packed into St Mark’s Square on Sunday for the "flight of the angel" marking the traditional opening of the Carnival of Venice.
Tourists and Venetians alike, the spectators looked on as 19-year-old student Elisa Constantini leapt from the famous St Mark’s Campanile bell tower, attached to a wire 80 metres above the ground.
The "angel" threw confetti at the crowd below, in a highlight of one of the world’s most celebrated carnivals.
"It’s like we’re going back in time," enthused Susie, from Verona in northern Italy, who had come to watch the spectacle.
But modern-day concerns were evident in the high security put on for the event.
"It’s normal, these measures," said Chinese tourist Xu Hong. "You have to have them. That doesn’t take away from the beauty, the magic of this event".
The carnival, which will end on February 13, is thought to have started in 1162 after a military victory. Abandoned for decades, it was revived in 1980. — AFP