Carnival is a Western Christian festive season that occurs before the liturgical season of Lent with the main events typically occur during February or early March. It involves public celebrations like parades and public street parties with masks.
Carnival historically had two main purposes. On the one side, it celebrates the end of winter (means bad and cold weather) and the beginning of the spring with the new life, on the other serves to eliminate winter reserves of the food before fasting in Lent. Of course, those practical reasons sometimes degenerated through the time and perhaps cross the boundary of good sense (eg, “Battle of the oranges” in Ivrea) but this is another theme.
If you find yourself in Italy in February or early March, you will surely feel the carnival atmosphere, as the carnival is celebrated everywhere. We will list here just a couple of the most popular.
The most famous, not only in Italy, is certainly Venice Carnival. The indescribable beauty of La Serenissima (a name for the Republic of Venice, which literally means “the most/very serene”), with elegant gondolas and splendid historical buildings, is the perfect setting for a refined and imaginative mask so loved and popular throughout the world.
Click to visit the official Venice Carnival site.
Second famous is Viareggio Carnival.
Viareggio, a seaside city in Tuscany, Italy, is known for its great send beach and its Carnival. La Cittadella is a complex housing the Carnival Museum, with small reproductions of the city’s allegorical floats.
Click to visit the official Viareggio Carnival site.
Another really beautiful is Acireale Carnival.
Located in Sicily, the largest Italian island on the Ionian coast between Catania and Taormina, and at the foot of Mount Etna (which is, besides Vesuvius, the most famous volcano in this part of the world) Acireale lives the carnival with love and passion. Historical allegorical floats in papier-mâché and famous flower floats have recently been enriched by an imaginative lighting that, together with great final fireworks, assures visitors an unique and unforgettable experience.
Click to visit the official Acireale Carnival site.
Very particular is Ivrea Carnival.
The Battle of the Oranges is the most spectacular part of the historic Carnival, and a fantastic representation of the town’s rebellion against the tyrant. The Battle of the Oranges is fought for three days, from Sunday to Shrove Tuesday. It is played between the nine teams on foot, who represent the people who revolted, and the ‘Aranceri’ (orange-throwers) on horsedrawn carriages, who play the role of the feudal armies.
Click to visit the official Ivrea Carnival site.
At the end we would like to mention Riječki Karneval. Exceptionally of course, since Rijeka (Fiume in Italian, River in English) is not an Italian city (although has been for almost 30 years – from 1918 to 1947). Carnival in Rijeka is the most important carnival in the Republic of Croatia with regular participation of many international groups. Rijeka is the a full member of the Federation of European Carnival Cities but we decided to call your attention on this manifestation since Rijeka is elected “European Capital of Culture” for 2020 (like Matera in Italy for 2019). We will speak about both mentioned cities in our future posts because we follow ECC initiative (more about that soon). Here we just want to say: “Rijeka Carnival is already nice. Maybe for 2020 they plane something spectacular.”
Click to visit the official Rijeka Carnival site.