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Some of Central Italy’s Best Carnivals: Viareggio, Fano, and Ronciglione

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Viareggio in Tuscany

Viareggio, a picturesque coastal city located in Tuscany, is renowned throughout the world for its lively carnival tradition. The Viareggio Carnival, founded in 1873, has become one of the most important and anticipated events in the entire Italian peninsula.

The Viareggio Carnival is famous for its great allegorical parade, which consists of a long procession of beautifully decorated allegorical floats. These floats, true artistic masterpieces, are built by talented local artisans who work for months to create these works of art of immense magnitude. The floats are often inspired by contemporary political and social events and are full of irony and satire.

One of the most appreciated traditions of the Viareggio Carnival is the papier-mâché known as cartapesta in Italian. This ancient artistic technique is used to create real traveling theatres. Over 20 meters high, and 12 meters wide, the floats amaze the public every year with the parade of floats.

In addition to allegorical floats, the Viareggio carnival also offers fireworks shows, children’s carnival parades and night parties involving the whole city. The people of Viareggio dress up and join the party, dancing and singing until late at night.


copyright: Caterina Chimenti

Mark Your Calendar

  • Parade of papier-mache floats: 3, 8, 11, 13, 18, 24 of February
  • Fireworks show: 3 and 24 February

Check the official website for details.

Ronciglione in Lazio

The Ronciglione Carnival in the province of Viterbo and in the heart of Tuscia is among the oldest in Central Italy and one of the most amazing. A party from start to finish with the grandiose Gala Course with parades, allegorical floats, masked groups, and folklore bands, sweets, chocolates and confetti.

The celebrations begin on Fat Thursday with the sound of the bells. The City Band, majorettes, costumes, and the historical parade of the Hussars announce the arrival of the “Carnival King”, and the Mayor gives him the keys to the city.
The Hussar parade is a historical re-enactment of the era of French rule and tells of a captain of the French hussars who fell in love with a local woman.

Saturday is the “Gluttonous Carnival”, a gastronomic event when all the local delicacies such as polenta, tripe, pork roast, and many other specialties abound. The evening belongs to Ronciglione’s younger crowd who celebrate in the piazzas. On Sunday, it’s time for the grandiose Gala Corso parade with masks, floats, costumed groups, bands, majorettes and the traditional Saltarello dancing in the square.

The “Red Nose parade”, an entirely Ronciglionese tradition, is on Monday. These characters parade through the streets of the historic center, climbing onto balconies, entering houses, and joking while singing.

Shrove Tuesday is a day for children with the Great Children’s Carnival which is followed by the traditional Saltarello dance in the square. In the late afternoon, in a very evocative ceremony, there is the funeral procession for the Carnival.

copyright: Ivano Totonelli

Mark Your Calendar

  • January 28th and February 4th, 11th: Events and shows starting at 11 am; Hussar Parade at 3.30 pm and Grand Gala Parade at 3.45 pm
  • 8 February: Events starting at 2.30 pm Hussar Parade; Children’s Carnival
  • 10 February: Jotto Carnival (Gluttonous Saturday) from 2.30 pm events, shows, food stands and live music
  • 12 February: Red Nose Monday events starting at 2.30 pm
  • 13 February: Hussar Parade at 3.30 pm and Children’s Carnival followed by the Saltarello dance and the Funeral Procession at 6.30 pm

Check the official website for details.

The Fano Carnival in the Marches Region

The Fano Carnival in the province of Pesaro and Urbino is one of the oldest in Italy dating back to the 14th century. The tradition of the Fano Carnival includes the presence of various traditional masks commonly called “El Pup” or “El Vulòn”.

One of the traditions that everyone likes, from adults to children, is the “Getto”. From the Italian word for “throw”, the Getto includes hurling sweets and chocolates from the floats during the procession. This is quite common throughout Italy but in Fano, they go overboard! Tons of sweets of all types literally rain down on the spectators who are ready with cardboard cones to collect as much as possible.

Another peculiarity is the Musica Arabita which dates back to the end of the nineteenth century when two groups of society existed in Fano: the nobles and the rich and the sailors and working class. The nobles listened to operas and classical music while the “vulgar” people were excluded from such entertainment. And so the “Bidonata” was born: music created with pots and jars and played to essentially poke fun of the nobles.

copyright: Filippo Pucci

Mark Your Calendar

  • 28 January: Children’s Carnival from 10.00 am; parade of floats at 3 pm
  • February 3: Parade of floats at 4 pm
  • 4 February: Children’s Carnival at 10 am and parade of floats at 3 pm
  • 8 February: Flag raising with Arabita music at 4 pm; Clown Symphony at 5 pm and the Vulòn dance
  • 11 February: Parade of floats at 3 pm
  • 13 February: from 3.30 pm Dance, music, shows, and the closing of the Fano Carnival, “Il Rogo del Pupo” at 6.45 pm

Check the official website for details.

Wherever you choose to celebrate Carnival in Italy, it will be guaranteed fun for all ages!