Giant rat stars in Venice carnival boat parade

STORY: A large rat-shaped structure installed on a boat opened the 2023 parade, followed by dozen of amused Venetians dressed like unicorns, prisoners and clowns who rowed along the city canals and under the iconic Rialto bridge.

The traditional carnival first began in the 11th century as a period of excess before the rigours of lent, the 40 days of fasting that traditionally precede Easter.

During the two weeks of carnival, the canal city fills with thousands of tourists from across Italy and the world.