The most famous carnivals of Italy are those held in Venice, Viareggio, Ivrea, Cento, Gambettola, Satriano, and Acireale.
Venice: The carnival in Venice was first recorded in 1268. The subversive nature of the festival is reflected in the many laws created over the centuries in Italy attempting to restrict celebrations and often banning the wearing of masks. Masks have always been a central feature of the Venetian carnival; traditionally people were allowed to wear them between the festival of Santo Stefano (St. Stephen’s Day, Dec 26) at the start of the carnival season and midnight of Shrove Tuesday. As masks were also allowed during Ascension and from Oct 5 to Christmas, people could spend a large proportion of the year in disguise. Mascareri (mask makers) enjoyed a special position in society, with their own laws and their own guild. In 1797 Venice became part of the Austrian-held Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia when Napoleon signed the Treaty of Campo Formio. The Austrians took control of the city on Jan 18, 1798 and it fell into a decline which brought carnival celebrations to a halt for many years. It was not until a modern mask shop was founded in the 1970s that a revival of old traditions began.
Viareggio: The Carnival of Viareggio is one of the most famous in Italy - it lasts a month with night and day celebrations, floats, parades, district celebrations, masked dances and other shows. In 2001 the new “Citadel” (Carnival town) was inaugurated: a polyfunctional and a great architectonical value structure that includes new hangars for the creation of the floats, the paper-mâché school and a great arena where, during the summer, “Citadel under the stars” is held, including shows, concerts, and cultural initiatives.
Ivrea: The Historic Carnival of Ivrea is mostly known for its Battle of the Oranges, allegory of struggle for freedom. It is valued as one of the most ancient carnivals in the world: during the year 1000 a miller’s wife killed the tyrant of the city, King Arduino; from that episode began a civil war between the oppressed people and the king’s supporters, finally won by the people, and until now every year the citizens remember their liberation with the Battle of the Oranges. Here, teams of “Aranceri” on foot shoot oranges representing ancient arrows and stones against Aranceri on carts, representing Arduino’s allies. During the French occupation of Italy in the 19th century the Carnival of Ivrea was modified by adding representatives of the French army who help the miller’s wife.
Acireale: Parades of allegorical floats and flower floats, into a baroque circuit, are one of the attractions of the best carnival in Sicily on a typical carnival night. The Carnival of Acireale each year attracts visitors from around the world.
Other cities: In Milan the Carnival lasts 4 more days, ending on the Saturday after Ash Wednesday, because of the Ambrosian rite; it is thus referred to as Carnevale Ambrosiano (“Ambrosian Carnival”). The carnival in Verona is celebrated with a parade of “carri allegorici” on the “Venerdi Gnocolar”, which takes place on the last Friday of Carnival, when people eat traditional potato gnocchi. Also Putignano is well known because of the Carnival, considered one of the main carnivals in Italy since it is the oldest (dated from 1394) and longest Italian carnival: it starts the day after Christmas and finishes the day before the ash Wednesday. In South Tyrol the most famous carnival is the Egetmann. Even though this is the most famous, various others enrich local culture and make it the most colorful time in many towns and villages.
This is Campo-Formio from Puerto Rico. Your new favorite band. Please get acquainted with them now. They’ll be on tour with Dry Feet in April and playing Philly on the 11th and 19th so keep an eye and at least one ear out for them. They’ll be sure to blow your mind.