year at Viareggio, between January and March there is the most
popular event in the whole of Tuscany well known throughout Europe:
Since 1873, the year in which certain young persons had
the idea of organising a fancy dress parade to relive the bygone
carnival celebrations, a tradition was established that every
year has been enriched with something new, and which now welcomes
the public from all over Europe.
After a few years, apart from the people and the carriages in
fancy dress, there began to appear open floats depicting satirical
These early floats were so heavy, as the figures were constructed
in wood, plaster, metal or fabric, that they
needed oxen to pull them the length of the parade.
The construction of these fantastic floats was, in the first
place, trusted to the voluntary work of the master wood cutters
in the naval yards of Viareggio, subsequently in 1922 the use of
the much lighter and easier worked papier-maché was introduced,
and the construction work on the floats was no longer a pass-time but
became true institutions and workshops, where, in great secrecy,
the papier-maché artists each year construct floats even more
original and spectacular, enormous effigies at times imaginary, sometimes
satirical, which parade between the two wings of rejoicing crowds.
In the area to the north of Viareggio "La Cittadella"
has been constructed, inaugurated in December 2001 and designed
by Architect Francesco Tomassi, where, together with the theatre and the
multimedia museum there have been built special hangars where the talented
papier-maché artists give life each year to their fantastic and
After the second world war, in 1946 the parade of floats
was resumed and in 1954 the television took up the event and transmitted
it in "Eurovisione".
So, each year under the Viareggian "Burlamacco" mask
conceived by Umberto Bonetti in 1931, the multicoloured reunion of
the cheerful crowds which invade Viareggio during the carnival period
is renewed and enlarged.
Another event to be noted is that of "Foiano della Chiana",
where, since the nineteenth century is celebrated the "Carri
Matti" (mad floats) which are huge decorated floats from
which the people in fancy dress on board throw oranges and other vegetables
at the crowds, depicting a folklore battle with the crowds on the
ground below them. At the end of Carnival time they celebrate the
funeral of Giocondo, a tall effigy is burnt in the town square.
Carnival is very important in Tuscany where, each year, every
town and city, and especially the small villages, organise
fancy dress parades and masked balls and merry carnival events,
where the young and old can enjoy themselves together.