10 Places to celebrate Carnival in Italy

Italy is home to some of the best and most famous carnivals in the world! Here are ten incredible places to celebrate carnival in Italy.

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 amazing carnivals in Italy.

Venice Carnival | World Famous

10 italian carnivals

Where is Venice Carnival?  Venice, Veneto Region, Italy

What is carnival in Venice? The Venice Carnival 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 revellers. 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.

Viareggio Carnival | The World’s Best Carnival Floats

10 italian carnivals

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 have 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 theatre events. Every neighbourhood in the city has its own neighbourhood celebrations going on. There is even a carnival museum where you can participate in a papier-mache work shop.

Ivrea Carnival | The Battle of the Oranges

10 italian carnivals

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 towns 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 towns civil war that 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 possible 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.

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Putignano Carnival | Italy’s Longest Running Carnival

10 italian carnivals

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 colourful masquerade parades.

Cento Carnival | Rio Carnival Twin

 10 italian carnivals

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 centre 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

10 italian carnivals

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 launch rotten eggs and citrus fruits 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 introduce. Today the carnival is known for its large floats that are decorated with flowers.

Fano Carnival | Puppets and chocolate

10 italian carnivals

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

10 italian carnivals

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

10 italian carnivals

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.

Sardinia Carnival

10 italian carnivals

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 organised to honour Emperor Charles V with fames of skill with swords, spears and horses. Oristano carnival is still full of knights, horseback games, tournaments and equestrian.

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