Italy's Spectacular 'Other' Carnival
Carnival season is upon us yet again and nobody embraces the spirit of carnival more than the passionate and gregarious population of the Italian peninsula. Whilst Venice, with its grand masked balls and theatrical splendour stands alone as the Queen of carnival (in Europe), the politically satirical carnival parade offered up by Viareggio in Tuscany is a unique and spectacular experience.
|The 2011 Viaregio Carnival, celebrating its 138th anniversary, takes place between the 20th February and the 13th March with parades on the 20th and 27th February and the 6,8th and 13th March. Viareggio exudes Victorian elegance with its grand building watching over a sprawling promenade and miles of golden beaches. Located just 30-minutes from Pisa and its airport it is the main town at the southern end of the Versilian Riviera.|
|This usually tranquil and select resort town comes alive during the carnival season with an influx if visitors joining a throng of locals to enjoy the spectacle. The highlights of the Viareggio Carnival have to be the giant themed papier-maché allegorical floats - the biggest ones weighing in at about forty tons and standing at 18 metres high - each one a work of highly comical art. With no barriers between th spectators and parade there is a real feeling of participation as the floats actually seem to move among the throng. Apart from the floats, the carnival has lots of other fun activities on offer: from folkloristic bands, to masked performers, from a wide cultural and traditional programme of events, to a wonderful variety of traditional Tuscan food and drink, especially in the Piazza Mazzini. This is what Italians do best after-all!|
|If it is too late to make plans for 2011, then the 2012 event is certainly worth sticking in the diary. The usual five masked parades of the 2012 carnival are planned for February 19th (Opening ceremony with fireworks at 3pm), 26th and March 4th, 6th (all at 3pm) and 11th (Night Parade at 9.30pm with fireworks).In addition, every evening, there are carnival celebrations in all of the city’s different districts. The parades take place in a ring-like circuit about 1¼ miles long, along the seaside avenues of Viareggio, best known as La Passeggiata.|