Most people are familiar with the masked revellers at the Carnevale in Venice, but another truly fantastic celebration ofCarneVa (literally meaning the “meat goes”) is held each year in the Tuscan coastal city of Viareggio. Here the stars of the show are the spectacular papier-mâché floats that have been promenading down the streets of Viareggio since the turn of the century. While Carnevale is an occasion for masks, parades, costumes, music and celebration, the Carnival in Viareggio has also become famous for being a stage where participants can demonstrate their sharp wit by creating satire inspired by current social concerns.
Impressive from the start
The very new idea of organising a parade of floats to celebrate Carnevale outdoors began in 1873 over coffee amongst Viareggio’s youth. They dreamed of a celebration that would impress visitors and become the finest and the grandest in the world. When the triumphal floats finally appeared, they did indeed just that. Originally built from wood and plaster, modelled by sculptors and put together by carpenters and iron smiths who were skilled boat makers from the local docks, the massive rolling monuments were an immediate success.