VENICE (AFP) - Tens of thousands of revellers in masks and period costume packed St Mark's Square on Sunday (Feb 19) for the "flight of the angel", the traditional opening of the Venice Carnival.
On the 12th chime of midday from St Mark's Campanile, Claudia Marchiori descended gracefully from the famous bell tower, attached to a wire 80 metres above the crowd that had gathered for one of the world's most famous carnivals.
Dressed in a leviathan purple gown with orange wings, she sprinkled glitter and confetti to the tune of Wicked Game, the 1989 song by American rock musician Chris Isaak.
The carnival, which lasts until Feb 28, is thought to have started in 1162 after a military victory. Abandoned for decades, it was resurrected in 1980.
Security was high at the event this year, which left some struggling to navigate the network of bridges and canals to the centre.
"I imagine those tourists who did not know what to expect may have had some difficulties in reaching this magnificent point of the city," Michele, an Italian visitor who was enjoying the show with his Latvian girlfriend, told AFP.