Women of the highest rank gave and went to masquerade balls in the house of a certain traiteur, who had formed such an establishment as to enable him to entertain the most respectable and the most numerous companies in a manner suitable to the condition. Husbands had no objection to suffer their wives to go on a party of pleasure, accompanied by as many of the opposite sex; to take with them silver plate, costly wines, and other necessaries and conveniences, and to bear all the expenses of such excursion. It was not ladies of quality alone that had shaken off the former restraints.
Women were seen, as in Paris, behind the counter of almost every shop. Milliners and seamstresses worked in public shops, in which large companies very often assembled. The nuns received visitors in the parlors like other women; they laughed, they jested, they diverted themselves with music like the ladies of the court, and had assemblies as frequently as these.
In no other city of Italy were the nuns under so little discipline and restraint as at Venice; especially in those convents which were provided for the reception of the daughters of the nobles. Nuns of noble birth not only received their friends and acquaintances in the private parlor, but paid visits out of their convents, and kept their lovers almost in public.
In the public promenades, at the theater, and at balls, the women never appeared otherwise than masked; and this continual disguise embarrassed the operations of jealousy in the same proportion as it facilitated the plans for the gratification of private wishes.
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.