Italian Carnival in Viareggio

It’s Carnival time here in the little seaside resort of Viareggio - our nearest proper town. In Italy this carnival is second only to Venice, but I didn’t know exactly what to expect. We arrived half an hour late on the Promenade, after dealing with traffic and finding somewhere to park that wasn’t in a neighbouring country! So I missed the 40 feet high Berlusconi surrounded by twirling lap dancers.

But I was in time to see the ‘Down Jones Index’ - and a lot of bankers falling off ladders with their trousers down.

This is a wonderful family and community event, with most of the revellers in fancy dress. It was perfect for people watching.

Two women in Spanish costume were having a heated argument.

I think this man was posing as a rabbit against his will!

Likewise this very disgruntled child in a gorilla suit.

Most of the floats are four or five stories tall and fully articulated - some of the parts are rotated by people pedalling bicyles inside the structure! During the three hours we were there, we saw about twenty floats go past; each one accompanied by a whole company of dancers and musicians.
The enthusiasm was so infectious, I really wanted to join them and dance in the street!
Among the favourites was the Chinese Dragon float with two dragons and oriental dancers.

Edward Scissor Hands

Michael Jackson.

In between the main floats are smaller acts put together by community groups. I saw Mary Poppins, and even spotted Angela Merkel among the politicians.

My favourite float was the War Machine, fronted by an army of goose-stepping women.

It was getting dark as the last floats rumbled towards us.
One of the last featured two giant swans doing a stately dance, surrounded by babies in lotus flowers. They made an utterly surreal image against the evening sky.
There are another four parades during the next three weeks - I enjoyed myself so much, I will have to go again!


  1. Such colour and fun in the middle of winter is a gift. The comedies and ironies on display must say a lot about the Italian soul.
    Lovely post

  2. Glad I could give you a vicarious glimpse, WEndy!

  3. Amazing, so much effort and enthusiasm must go into the carnival.

  4. It does Al - the whole community is involved for a year. The floats are professionally designed and there's a competition for the best one - always fought over! I was amazed at how much work had gone into it all. And the atmosphere was lovely - no dark side to it at all.


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