Whilst the carnival in Venice is world famous, almost every other city, town and village in Italy has its own beloved festivities. Here are ten of the most amazing carnivals in Italy.
Venice Carnival | World Famous
Where is Venice Carnival?
Venice, Veneto Region, Italy.
What is carnival in Venice?
The Venice Carnival is one of the most famous carnival celebrations in the world. The Venice Carnival is an ancient carnival celebration that dates back to 1296 and is famous for the Venetian Carnival masks that are worn by the carnival revelers. This is an ancient tradition that was done so that people could hide their social class during carnival.
Millions of people flock from all over the world to witness the beautiful 18th century carnival costumes that are seen all over streets and alleys of the city. The carnival costumes look absolutely majestic set against the beautiful backdrop of Venice.
Venice Carnival is also known for its exclusive and glamorous masquerade balls that are held in ancient venetian palaces. Venice Carnival is filled with parades, parties, costume competitions, boat races, street parties and more. One of the most famous events of Venice Carnival is “Flight of the Angel”, which sees a costumed person descend from St. Mark’s tower to the Doge’s Palace.
Find out more: Read our Ultimate Guide to Venice Carnival here.
Viareggio Carnival | The World’s Best Carnival Floats
Where is Viareggio Carnival?
Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy.
What is carnival in Viareggio?
The Viareggio Carnival is one of the most famous carnival celebrations in the world. The carnival is famous for having the biggest and best papier-mache floats in the whole world. The floats are so impressive they are 20 meters high and animated. Viareggio Carnival lasts for a whole month and attracts thousands of visitors from all around the world.
There are several parades where you are able to watch the incredible floats parade whilst surrounded by costumed dancers and musicians. There are also loads of parties, concerts and theater events. Every neighborhood in the city has its own neighborhood celebrations going on. There is even a carnival museum where you can participate in a papier-mache workshop.
Find out more: Read our Ultimate Guide to Viareggio Carnival Here.
Ivrea Carnival | The Battle of the Oranges
Where is Ivrea Carnival?
Ivrea, in the Turin province, the Piedmont region of Italy.
What is carnival in Ivrea?
Ivrea Carnival is held in the medieval town of Ivrea located in the province of Turin. Ivrea Carnival is famous around the world for its Battle of the Oranges. Ivrea Carnival celebrates when the town was freed from an evil tyrant. The Battle of the Oranges is officially Italy’s biggest food fight and is all about commemorating the town’s struggle for freedom.
Back in the 13th century the town was under French rule until a local girl murdered the local tyrant and the whole village erupted in war against Napoleon’s troops. To commemorate this ancient event, today the town divides into teams of nine and re-evoke the town’s civil war with people representing Napoleon’s troops and the local people of Ivrea.
For three days the teams go around and throw oranges at each other as hard as they possibly can. You can wear a special hat and just be a witness to the orange battle, but where is the fun in that? Besides the orange battle there are also street performances, traditional processions with floats and folk groups.
Find out more: Read our Ultimate Guide to Ivrea Carnival Here.
The Foiano della Chiana Carnival | The Oldest Carnival in Italy
The Foiano della Chiana Carnival or Carnevale di Foiano della Chiana is an annual pre-Lenten carnival and one of the most important events in Italy, famous for its spectacular floats, festive atmosphere and historical tradition! This carnival also happens to be one of the oldest carnivals in Italy, as its celebrations were documented back in 1539!
Foiano della Chiana Carnival occurs in the city of Foiano del Chiana in Tuscany, Italy. This pretty medieval village comes alive every year and the spirit of carnival brings tradition, folklore, fun and color to both the locals and visitors, in a celebration that attracts everyone, young and old alike!
When one thinks of carnival they may think about Rio and its samba schools or Venice and its beautiful masks, or Viareggio and its amazing floats, but in Foiano della Chiana, the essence of carnival is the historical significance and the deep-seated feeling inside the people who live in this town. In Foiano, carnival is a personal thing, it’s a part of every inhabitant and an eternal gift for those who have the good fortune to experience it.
On five festive Sundays, this small Tuscan village transforms into an open-air theater that brings the ancient art of papier-mache to life! Every year during carnival, the famous papier-mache floats are paraded through the streets creating an eye-popping spectacle! Foiano del Chiana Carnival was derived from ancient medieval rituals created to appease the local townsfolk and create a joyous atmosphere to bring in the New Year.
Putignano Carnival | Italy’s Longest Running Carnival
Where is Putignano Carnival?
Putignano, Apulia Region, Southern Italy.
What is carnival in Putignano?
Putignano Carnival is the longest running carnival in all of Italy. It is located in Putignano which is a town in the Italian province of Bari, in the Apulia region. The carnival actually begins on the day after Christmas 26th December and ends on Mardi Gras day with a funeral parade.
Putignano Carnival is actually one of the most ancient carnivals in all of Europe dating back to 1384. During that year the Knights of Malta moved the relics of St Stephen to St Stephens Abbey in Monopoli to Putignano for protection. The locals followed the relics and celebrated with songs, dance, and comedy.
Because of this during carnival you can witness many poets on the squares reciting satirical rhymes for entertainment. Masks and papier-mache floats take over the whole town in vibrant and colorful masquerade parades.
Cento Carnival | Rio Carnival Twin
Where is the Carnival of Cento?
Cento, Province of Ferrara, Italy.
What is carnival in Cento?
Carnival in Cento which is a town located in the Emilia-Romagna Region. This carnival and its ancient origins have been preserved in a famous painting by a 17th Cento native artist Gian Francesco Barbieri, known as Guercino. The Cento Carnival is an important folkloristic carnival that was twinned with Rio Carnival in 1993 and saw the carnival receive international fame.
Cento Carnival features incredible float parades that occur in the historic center and feature masked dancing figures. Cento Carnival runs for the five days prior to Lent and on Carnival Sunday there is a ceremony for the best carnival costumes.
Acireale Carnival | Flower Floats
Where is the Acireale Carnival?
Acireale, Sicily, Italy.
What is carnival in Acireale?
In the Baroque town of Acireale, occurs the most beautiful carnival in all of Sicily. This carnival dates back to the 16th century when spontaneous celebrations used to occur during February where people in the streets would throw rotten eggs and citrus fruits at each other.
In the 18th century folk poets started rhyming on the streets of Acireale. Later in the 19th century the cassariata was introduced which was a horse-led parade where the towns noble folk would throw confetti and candy at the crowd. In the 20th century gorgeous papier-mache masks and floats were introduced. Today the carnival is known for its large floats that are decorated with flowers.
Fano Carnival | Puppets and chocolate
Where is the Fano Carnival?
Fano, Le Marche Region, Italy.
What is carnival in Fano?
The beautiful seaside town of Fano which is located in Le Marche region is home to one of the oldest and most famous carnival celebrations in Italy. The carnival began back in 1347 during medieval times and marked the reconciliation of two local families. The carnival is a pre-Lenten celebration that occurs the Sunday before Lent.
Some of the ancient traditions still occur today including throwing chocolates from the parade floats to the crowds. People also wear carnival masks known as vulons which caricatures of the city’s most famous people are. A key feature of carnival is “Musica Arabita”, a type of music that is played on pots, coffee cans and pots. The traditions were made mandatory in town statue back in 1450.
Mamoiada Carnival | Wooden masks
Where is the Mamoiada Carnival?
Mamoiada, Nuroro Province, Italy.
What is carnival in Mamoiada?
Mamoiada Carnival is one of the oldest carnivals in Europe and dates back thousands of years. Mamoiada Carnival is full of ancient ritualistic celebrations. One ancient tradition is a carnival character called ‘Mamuthones’. Locals wear traditional black masks, carved out of wood, and sheepskin clothing with goat bells on their backs.
Another carnival character is the Issohadores who wear red blouses, white hats, shawls trousers and white masks. They both parade along the streets in parallel lines, accompanied by musicians who play rhythmic tunes.
Habsburg Carnival | Trentino Culture
Where is Habsburg Carnival?
Hasburg, Madonna di Campiglio, Italy.
What is carnival in Madonna di Campiglio?
Habsburg Carnival takes place in the mountainous village of Madonna di Campiglio. It is an ancient carnival that is held for a week in February. This momentous occasion is celebrated with parades, balls, dancers, carriages and a unique torch-lit skiing event. Everyone in the town dresses up in historical costumes.
Where is the Sardinia Carnival?
Sardinia, Mediterranean Sea, Italy.
What is carnival in Oristano?
Oristano Carnival is a stunning carnival celebration from start to finish. The first documented mention of carnival was back in 1547 in documents that spoke about shows organized to honor Emperor Charles V with games of skill with swords, spears and horses. Oristano carnival is still full of knights, horseback games, tournaments and equestrian.