Viareggio, the biggest carnival in Europe


The Carnival of Viareggio is a great event that lasts a month in this beautiful city near Lucca and Pisa. Born in 1873, Il Carnevale di Viareggio each year attracts tourists coming from all over the world.

The protagonists of the show are the great Carnival floats made of papier-maché as well as masked people, musicians and performers.

The parades take place on the seaside avenues of Viareggio, known as La Passeggiata, a ring-like circuit 2 km long where floats move and people can follow each choreography dancing and laughing in a magic atmosphere where funny jokes bring everyone together.

To wear a mask is highly recommended but you can even invent your character wearing just a strange cap or doing some kind of performance if you are a group of friends.

That’s it, the giant floats are real travelling theatres, that often make special movements letting us discover secrets and transformations. Their first parade dates back in the February of 1873 when the Carnival of Viareggio was born. The real spirit of this event relies in the reversal dynamic it starts. For a month in 19th century, everyone could wear the clothes of nobles and real nobles could be treated as poor.

Nowadays Carnevale di Viareggio is one of the most beautiful of the world. More than 1 million tourists visit it every year. Sculptors that prepare the floats parade are known as carristi. Their knowledges dates back in that of carpenters and blacksmiths who, in the Dock of Viareggio, prepared boats destined to challenge successfully the treacherous waters and the capricious winds of the oceans.

Carristi are also scenographers (for theatre and cinema) during the rest of the years and in the past some of them collaborate with the great italisn director Federico Fellini.

This carnival has got a rich patrimony of folkloristic music, really enjoying. Every year artists are invited to collaborate with local Carristi. Festivities will go on during days and nights, with local parties, masked shows and all kind of festivals ..

You have also the possibility to discover the Citadel, where the Museum of Carnival offers a wide history of Viareggio and other carnivals in the world. Here the giants floats are made and their secrets can be undiscovered. These are works of art in motion, up to 20 meters high, focusing each year a particoular aspect of our lives.

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Image Flickr Creative Commons License courtesy by ribaunz