The Great Masquerade: Carnevale di Venezia

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At dawn they emerge from the shadows, posing and primping against historic backdrops like mysterious apparitions. Meticulously costumed, they could be stars of a lavish period drama or Vegas production. Instead, they're players in a celebration that draws some 3 million annual visitors to Venice, including a throng of photographers eager to document the visual feast. In the weeks before Lent's austerity, Venice's Carnival blurs reality and fantasy with two weeks of escape and new identities.

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