Carnevale, known in English as ‘carnival,' is a centuries-old tradition across Italy. The rituals go back to ancient pagan festivals but through the years were adapted to the Catholic church calendar. The word comes from the Latin carne vale, meaning ‘farewell to meat,' and it refers to the 40 days of restrictions during Lent. However, carnevale has become much more than a brief farewell to protein-rich comestibles. It is a celebration: a time for parties and parades, masquerades and confetti, music and dancing, fun and merrymaking. Italy's best-known carnival celebrations take place this year on February 21 (Fat Tuesday) in Venice and Viareggio, known, respectively, for their elaborate costumes and masks and satirical papier-mâché floats. However, from north to south, Italy's other regions mark the pre-Lent period, and Italy's biggest and best pre-Lent parties represent a surprising array of traditions. Use TF's short list to make last-minute plans for this year or keep it handy for future editions.