'Flight of the angel' launches Carnival of Venice

(AFP PHOTO GABRIEL BOUYS)

(AFP PHOTO GABRIEL BOUYS)

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, Last Updated: 1:34 PM ET

More than 100,000 revellers, many dressed in masks and period costume, packed into St Mark's Square for the "flight of the angel" that marks the traditional opening of the Carnival of Venice.

On the twelfth chime of midday from St Mark's Campanile, fearless 22-year-old student Julia Nasi leapt from the famous bell tower, 80 metres above the huge crowd that had gathered for one of the world's most celebrated carnivals.

In a dress made by theatre costume designer Stefano Nicolao -- and with a little help from a crane and some steel wires -- Nasi declared she "was not afraid at all".

The carnival, which lasts until March 4, is thought to have started in 1162 after a military victory. Abandoned for decades, it was resurrected in 1980.


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