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Zioba Grasso

Everyone knows about Mardi Gras, the Tuesday when the Carnival of Venice ends. Fewer people know about Fat Thursday or Shrove Thursday, a.k.a. Zioba Grasso in Venetian. The city experiences the most exciting events and parties from Thursday to Tuesday. It is the time to indulge in all gastronomical and other pleasures Venice has to offer. It also has a lot to do with the upcoming Lent before Easter. So let’s enjoy! 

The history behind Zioba Grasso

Fat Thursday is the celebration of a historical event of 1162. This is one of the famous annual events of Venice. It celebrates the victory of Doge Vitale Michieli II over Ulrich, the Patriarch of Aquileia. Ulrich was captured with twelve parish priests, allied with the Friulian feudal lords. With the decision of the Doge, the Patriarch and the priests got their freedom on one condition. They promised to pay an annual tribute to Venice with one bull, twelve pigs, and twelve loaves of bread. The promise had to last for 200 years, but the tradition has stayed until today. 

The celebration of Zioba Grasso took place on St Mark’s Square. The main event was the slaughter of a bull and twelve pigs for the glory of Venice. Poor people received some meat, and prisoners were happy to taste the bread. The festivities continued in the Doge’s Palace. The Doge and the Senators celebrated the victory over the feudal lords by beating small wooden castles with iron bars. 

These peculiar events lasted until 1420, when the ban on slaughtering the animals came into place. Still held on Piazza San Marco, the festivities looked different now. Crowds filled the square to see fireworks and acrobats walking down the rope from St Mark’s Bell Tower

How Venetians celebrate Fat Thursday

On Fat Thursday, locals and guests of the city enjoy the Carnival of Venice to the fullest. It is the best time to explore local pubs and try exquisite Venetian cicchetti with delicious wine. The lines form in the places where they make fresh and delicious sweets. The desserts you must taste are frittelle, galani, and castagnole. But the celebration of the Venice Carnival is about more than just the food, of course. It’s about dressing up, wearing Venetian masks, enjoying yourself, and letting go of life’s worries. 

During the Carnival of Venice, remember to see the finest Venice churches and exciting Venice museums. Many of these venues offer special performances or deals, like guided tours for free.