Who said that you can have a good time at the seaside only during Summertime? There is an event going on in the coast of Tuscany during the Winter season, exactly between late January and early February, attracting thousands of people every year. This event is the renowned as
The Carnival of Viareggio, an event that have been taking place for 139 years.
The Carnival is a very important festive season in Italy. In many regions of Italy children (and often the adults too) celebrate this fest dressing up and masquerading in public or attending private parties, where the final purpose is joking and making pranks to each other. Many cities also organize parades where people are dressed up with extravagant costumes, maybe willing to win a prize, some other cities organize big parades with decorated Floats towed by animals or tractors.
The Viareggio Carnival (together with the Carnival of Venice) is one of the most important and ancient in Italy and it attracts crowds of visitors from all over Tuscany and not only. The Carnival of Viareggio is dating back to 1873, year in which the Tuscan bourgeoisie decided to dress up with customs and masks as a form of protest against the high taxes (perhaps we should do it even today? ).
What is the Viareggio Carnival nowadays?
The Carnival of the city of Viareggio is a parade of giant floats, mainly made of papier-maché materials, that taking inspiration from the recent either local and international political and economic events (such as the elections of Obama, the Royal couple of England…) make fun of their most famous characters with their ironic depictions. It is an occasion to laugh at the current events happening in Italy and around the World.
While the floats slowly march along the main boulevard along the sea, some people on top of them, wearing costomes, throw confetti, streamers and sweets to the viewers waiting on the sides. This is a party and a music cheerful atmosphere. Anyone can wear a costume. The floats parade onto the main boulevard along the sea take place every Sunday afternoon during February. For the 2013 edition the dates are as following: the 3rd ,the 10th , the 17th , and the 24th of February and a special edition take place in what is considered to be the most important day during Carnival which is “Mardi Gras”, on the 12th of February this year.
Another important site to visit in Viareggio is also “the Cittadella” which is a place comprising 16 large warehouses, where the laboratory (where the huge floats are created during the year) is located. The Warehouses host also the Museum where you can understand the secrets how the papier-machè is made and where you can try to do it with your own hands. Arriving to the “Cittadella” is very easy, from the highway you need to take the exit “Versilia”, here tourists and visitors can buy guided tours in order to visit the labs, nevertheless an entertainment for children is offered and the location is open all year round.
Where is Viareggio?
Viareggio is located on the north west coast, in the region of Tuscany, which is about 1 hour by car or by train from Florence, in an area called “Versilia”, famous for its nightlife and entertainments. Either during the summer and the winter it is very easy to meet italian and foreign famous VIPs while shopping in the boutiques of prestigious brands in the small town of Forte dei Marmi (a few km from Viareggio) or simply relaxing in their free time on these beaches.