Its February and as the Venetians are wearing their masks, the people of Ivrea begin to battle it out with oranges, City streets all around Italy take on an energetic party atmosphere. Colorful characters dance in the street, highly decorative floats make their way though towns and everywhere wakes up from its winter slump……the Carnevale has come to Italy!!!
The world famous Carnevale is celebrated in Italy 40 days before Easter, with parades, masquerade balls, entertainment, music, and parties. Marking the beginning of lent and ending on shove Tuesday (which is more commonly know as pancake day), the celebrations are spread over a number of days (even weeks in some cities). Because the date of Easter changes each year, so does the date for Carnevale. This years official Carnevale is on February 17th.
If your lucky enough to be in Italy this month, Here’s just a few festivals that might be worth a visit…..
1. Venice – Italy’s biggest carnival is held each year, beginning at end of January and ending in mid Feb it attracts Thousands of tourists to Venice to see the whole city turn into a asked ball. As the tourists watch from the gondolas, the locals walk around in baroque fancy-dress party and possibly attend one of the many elaborate balls. There is a spectacular opening ceremony, the Flight of the Angel as well as music, street performers, jousting competitions and during the last week of the carnival there is a contest for best mask, which is judged by a jury of international fashion designers.
2. Viareggio – Every Sunday in February the streets of this Tuscan seaside resort come alive, attracting over a million people the huge parade of floats and gigantic papier mâché figures make their way along the seafront. the giant dolls represent figures from fairy tales and the world of politics, after the impressive parade has made its way down the promenade there is food, drink and fireworks.
3. The Battle of the Oranges, Ivrea, – The Spanish throw tomatoes and the Italians throw fresh oranges at each other, once a year this small town in northern Italy hosts a colorful messy and almost comedic battle with oranges. Teams dressed in colorful costumes have a massive food fight in the streets, the locals represent the masses and pelt hooded people on horse drawn carts with the citrus fruit. The fights are celebrated all over the town and if you don’t fancy getting tango’ed every piazza will have a “safe” area where spectators can watch from the sidelines The four day festival ends with a grand finale on Shrove Tuesday.
Are you off to Italy this month to check out the Carnival? Or have you experienced any of these festivals before? I have been to Viareggio a few times before and hope to go again one year.