by Alessandra Cardone
VENICE, Itlay, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- After about a fortnight of festivities, the Venice Carnival 2017 drew to a close with a sumptuous last costume parade on Tuesday.
Thousands of revellers took part in the special events scheduled on the so-called "mardi gras" -- or Fat Tuesday -- the day that officially marks the end of the carnival month every year.
Precious masks, luxury period costumes, jewels, wigs, feathers, and other colorful accessories were literally "put on show" in the picturesque streets of the Italian city.
Besides its long history -- its inception dates back to 1296 -- the carnival in Venice is in fact, primarily, a showcase of beauty and disguise.
Major events included ice-skating, a fair of traditional artisanship, the carnival of youth, and most of all a best costume contest, which took place in the central St. Mark's square.
Dozens of people from all over Italy and from abroad came to compete, parading on a large stage before both the jury and a large audience of amused tourists and locals.
Some offered astonishing accurate reproductions of period costumes, while others stroke people more with their extravagant appearance and irony.
"I am the guardian of this beauty, who is equally vain and pride," a hunchbacked character with a black costume and a scary mask, accompanying a female companion, told Xinhua at the parade.
Under the costume actually was Renzo Sindoca, a man with over 30 years of experience in manufacturing carnival masks.
"The secret is to work on them again and again, and beautiful masks will come out at last," the artisan explained.
"Equally important is to surrender to the raw material: this is all leather, a living matter."
Yet, people wigged and dressed in masks and costumes could be seen everywhere in the narrow streets of Venice, walking very slowly and gracefully to allow themselves to be admired.
Never putting off their masks or saying a word, they would just stop every time when someone asked for a picture together, much to the delight of children and adults alike.
For some Venice Carnival enthusiasts, such ritual has become quite a tradition. "This is the seventh time for us here," Tom van Maanen from the Netherlands told Xinhua.
The man and his wife, Caroline, walked across Saint Mark's Square, drawing many admiring glances for their elaborate Baroque blue costume.
The couple said it was used to take part in the Venice Carnival only, because it was "a special party."
"It is for the atmosphere of the city during carnival, and the kindness of people, who always ask to take pictures with us... we love it," Caroline van Maanen said.
"This year, we have brought two costumes: this one in blue, and the second in pink, but always in Baroque style... and we change them every day."