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February is an exciting month to celebrate carnival in Italy. The dates of carnival usually fall in February but move each year, tied the weeks just before the religious period of Lent begins. There are parades, feasts and fun in every region; you just have to know where to look! Here are three ideas for incorporating some Carnevale festivities into your itinerary and check out the “tips” section to locate your own.
(Picture Credit: Stefano Montagner via foter)
1. VENICE, VENETO
Vying with New Orleans for the most famous carnival celebration in the world, the Venice carnival occurs over a period of two weeks with costumed parades, masquerade balls and costume contests. There are more than 50 related events in Venice and nearby providing entertainment, live music and theater. The amazing colorful costumes and elaborate masks are a feast for the eyes. Traces of the festivities we see today began as early as 1192. The modern-day Venice Carnival was instituted in 1979, after many periods of stop and start, including being banned by the fascist regime of Mussolini. One of the main highlights is the beautiful mask contest “la maschera più bella”. Held the last weekend of the carnival celebrations, entrants are judged by a panel of international fashion and costume designers. Venice will play host to over 3 million visitors during the Carnival period. Depending on the size of your wallet, you can choose how much or how little to participate. 2017 Carnival activity dates: February 11-28.
(Picture Credit: FaSerra via foter)
2. IVREA, PIEMONTE
Oranges are the ammunition of this battle royale in the northern Italian town of Ivrea. Referred to as the “largest food fight” in Italy, the Battle of the Oranges engages over 5,000 participants inflicting pain by hurling 60 tons of blood oranges at each other. Ivrea, north of Turin and west of Milan, imports an entire train full of oranges from Sicily each year for the event. The Battle is based on stories of real people from the rebellion 900 years ago. At this period in time, the “right of the first night” or jus primae noctae allowed the local Lord to sleep with a bride the night before her wedding. As the story goes, the mugnaia (miller’s daughter), went to the castle the night before her wedding, wielded a knife, murdered the Lord and cut his head off. The locals then started a three day rebellion which is represented by the throwing of the oranges. Activities for this Carnival period celebration started in January and culminate in the coming weeks with historical parades, feasts and of course, the famous orange fight. Aranceri (orange handlers) on fifty carts battle the aranceri from the nine pedestrian teams. Spectators are strongly advised to purchase and wear at all times the beretto frigio; this red stocking cap identifies the innocent onlookers hoping to escape errant oranges. Nets are strung throughout the parade route with designated areas for spectators to gather beneath for protection. The orange throwing spectacle can be seen on Sunday and Monday nights before dinner, refer to the full program schedule at the link below for parade map and times. 2017 Carnival activity dates: January 6 – March 1.
( Picture Credit: Alexandra via foter )
3. VIAREGGIO, TUSCANY
Since 1873, when the parade began with decorated carriages along the Via Regia, this carnival parade entertains with effigies of (in)famous people, sports athletes and politicians who are sometimes in attendance to view the spectacle. There are a total of five masked parades filled with larger than life floats. The daytime and nighttime festivities include parties and masked balls. On the final day judges award the best floats and cap off the event with a large fireworks display. Preparing for this $5 million event involves a lot of planning and preparation. “La Cittadella” is a building and event complex housing 2 museums and 16 warehouses; the warehouses are utilized by masters of paper-mâché to create the gigantic floats. Viareggio is located north of Pisa on the Tyrhennian coast and is a relatively short train ride from Pisa, Lucca & Florence. There is an admission fee and tickets are required for reserved seating on parade routes. 2017 Carnival activity dates: February 5-28.
To search for a carnival celebration near your Italian destination, search on the key words in Italian for carnival and the region location (example: for Tuscany you would search on “carnevale” and “Toscana”). Arrive early if you need parking and plan ahead if the main event or satellite events require tickets. Enjoy every moment!
Featured Image: Isa Cal via foter
Carnevale Events Website (in Italian): http://carnevaleventi.it/
Lisa Vogele, Lisa’s Travel Guides | February 8, 2017
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Lisa Vogele is an Italophile, festival-lover, and travel-addict. Her blog “Lisa Loves to Travel” has been created to share her love of festivals with fellow travelers and enthusiasts. Originally from Connecticut, she and her husband Mark call Colorado home. She loves hearing suggestions, recommendations, and experiences around festival travel. The “Food & Folklore” series is published by Lisa’s Travel Guides and highlights food, fun, and festivals to help others go local as a traveler, not a tourist.
Lisa can be reached at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @travelwithlisa.
This fun travel reference guide helps travelers incorporate local Italian food & folklore festivals into their trip planning and enjoy local, authentic experiences. Whether you have traveled to Italy before or looking forward to your first trip, this guide will make you positively hungry for Italy!
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