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Rent a Villa in Tuscany on February

Rent a Villa in Tuscany on February: Viareggio' s Carnival

Rent a Villa in Tuscany on FebruaryIn the weeks leading up to Lent, which is a time of renunciation, Carnival allows people license to play. Even though Lent is religious and Carnival seems to spring from less Christian impulses, both reflect social needs. What would renunciation be if not in reaction to excess?


Although there is no single style of carnival in the world, for children the basic magic is in dressing up and being someone else, parading or dancing down the street or in the square, throwing confetti at strangers, even if only on Sunday afternoons.


Sometimes adults, especially, go further in celebrating folly, masquerading, transdressing, satirizing. D. H. Lawrence beautifully described a Sicilian carnival in his travelogue Sea and Sardinia (published in 1921):


Carnival is beginning. A man dressed as a peasant woman in native costume is clambering with his great wide skirts and wide strides on to the box, and, flourishing his ribboned whip, is addressing a little crowd of listeners. He opens his mouth wide and goes on with a long yelling harangue of taking a drive with his mother – another man in old-woman's gaudy finery and wig who sits already bobbing on the box.

The would-be daughter flourishes, yells, and prances up there on the box of the carriage. The crowd listens attentively and mildly smiles. It all seems real to them. The q-b (Law- rence's wife) hovers in the distance, halffascinated, and watches. With a great flourish of whip and legs – showing his frilled drawers – the masker pulls round to drive along the boulevard by the sea – the only place where one can drive....

Little bunches of maskers, and single maskers danced and strutted along in a thick flow under the trees.

If you are a mask you don't walk like a human being: you dance and prance along extraordinarily like the life-size marionettes (of Palermo tradition), conducted by wires from above. That is how you go: with the odd jauntiness as if lifted and propelled by wires from the shoulders. In front of me went a charming coloured harlequin, all in diamond-shaped colours, and beautiful as a piece of china.

He tripped with the light, fantastic trip, quite alone in the thick crowd, and quite blithe.

Came two little children hand in hand in brilliant scarlet and white costumes, sauntering calmly. They did not do the mask trip. After a while a sky-blue girl with a high hat and full skirts, very short, that went flip-flip-flip, as a ballet dancer's, whilst she strutted; after her a Spanish grandee capering like a monkey. They threaded among the slow stream of the crowd.

Appeared Dante and Beatrice, in Paradise apparently, all in white sheetrobes, and with silver wreaths on their heads, arm in arm, and prancing very slowly and majestically, yet with the long lilt as if hitched along by wires from above. They were very good: all the well-known vision come to life, Dante incorporate, and white as a shroud, with his towhaired, silver-crowned, immortal Beatrice on his arm, strutting the dark avenues. He had the nose and cheek-bones and banded cheek, and the stupid wooden look, and offered a modern criticism on the Inferno.


Italy's extremes in formal carnival celebrations can be seen today in Venice, with its masked balls and elegant baroque style, and in Viareggio, where political satire reigns with gravitydefying floats parading down the Lungomare on weekends. Everywhere, neighborhoods compete for the loudest and rowdiest all-night parties.


For simple fun the Lungomare is the place to be, especially on Carnival Sundays: 16 and 23 February, 2 and 9 March, and on Tuesday 4 March (Martedì Grasso). People crowd into the street with ice creams and drinks and cameras in hand, just waiting for the fun, especially if the weather decides to cooperate and the skies are gloriously blue. A little rain is okay, but if downpours are predicted the parade may be cancelled or re-scheduled.


On Saturday evenings preceding the parades, theme parties called Veglioni are held. Costumes are de rigour and reservations are required (tel. 054 58071 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) The first Veglione, dedicated to 1970's disco music, is scheduled for 15 February at Caffè Liberty (Lungomare). The second, a big Masked Ball with "burlesque and seduction" promised, is planned for 22 February at the Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte. The third, on 1 March at the Principe di Piemonte Centro Congressi, is dedicated to the world of cinema. And the fourth, at Caffè Liberty on 8 March, has as its theme the fascination of blondes (come all you Marilyn Monroes and Brigitte Bardots!).


To see how the floats are made, a visit to La Cittadella del Carnevale is in order at any time of the year. La Cittadella was built in 2001 so that the all float designers would have a spacious, safe place to work. It also houses the Carnival Museum, the Carnevalotto Contemporary Art Museum, and workshop spaces where children and others learn how to create, using carta pesta (papier-mâché).




0 #1 luigi4235 2015-02-14 09:09
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