Did you know that not only Venice has its spectacular Carnival? On acustom Italy vacations, you can also see the Carnival of Viareggio in Tuscany.
First organised by a group of young rich bourgeois in 1873 the Carnival has been going from strength to strength attracting thousands of visitors to Viareggio. Today it is the biggest Italian folk event with an annual budget of five million euros.
The Viareggio Carnival takes place during the weeks that precede Lent with events and parades taking place over four-five consecutive Sundays. The city transforms into with fireworks, masked balls, marching brass bands and culinary events. The triple cannon opens the parades that both children and adults love. Gigantic papier-mâché floats combine imagination, design, modern technology and are nothing short of amazing. Some of them can be up to 20 m high, take months to build and are carried by up to 200 people! Many local artists assisted by craftsmen are involved in making the floats, which will have the author’s signature when finished. Just like a piece of art! The floats can be thought-provoking, satirical, inspired by Italian and international politics and often depict popular culture characters, politicians, and sportsmen. The parade runs along Viareggio’s beautiful promenade in a closed circle.
The symbol of the Carnival is the Burlamacco inspired by Italian “commedia dell’arte” such as Harlequin and Pierrot. In each parade, the Burlamacco is accompanied by only female participants called “Ondina” that represent Viareggio’s beautiful sea and beaches (“onda” means “wave” in Italian).
During the Carnival many cultural and sports events take place: book presentations, photography exhibitions, as well as cycling, golf, horse riding, parachute jumping, motorbike rallies, and even an international competition of radio-controlled speedboat. Special Carnival menus are offered in restaurants throughout the city with some delicious traditional dishes. Loads of confetti and streamers are thrown on the streets and happy smiles are everywhere you look. Italians really know how to do a great Carnival!
Photos by: Elena Torre, Bradley Griffin, Chris Sampson.