The student newspaper of Ossining High School

The Current

The student newspaper of Ossining High School

The Current

The student newspaper of Ossining High School

The Current


A City of Optimists: Carnevale of Viareggio

Costumes, masks, and giant floats – The Carnevale of Viereggio has been a tradition in a small city in Italy since 1873, and has continued to grow and evolve ever since. Celebrating its 151st year in 2024, it now serves as a symbol of community, joy, and pride for its citizens.
Isabella Vinces

The City of Viareggio

Viareggio is a city located on the seaside of Northern Tuscany, in Italy. During its warmer months of February and March, it is known for its beaches, boardwalk, shops, and most of all, the Carnevale of Viareggio. Over 1,000,000 people from all over the world come together every year, flooding the streets in vibrantly colored masks and costumes to indulge in the Carnevale’s festivities: giant papier-mache floats, fireworks, night parties, theater, food, and sporting events such as the Torneo di Viareggio (Football tournament). 

General Information on the Carnevale of Viareggio

In 1873, a group of artisans and sculptors began a tradition of building extraordinary carriages, thus giving birth to the Carnevale of Viareggio. That said, it wasn’t until the 1920’s that it became the Carnevale we have come to know today. The first float with a moving statue was created in 1923, and in 1925, Guglielmo Lippi Francensconi and Antonio d’Arliano created the papier-mache technique that is used for the floats. Finally, in 1931, the artist Urberto Bonetti and his wife, Ondina, brought everything together by designing the Viareggio Carnevale mascot known as a Burlamacco, now the official character of Viareggio. This is a depiction of a clown-like figure with the word Burlamacco deriving from the word trick (burla, in Italian) and the canal which passes through the city, known as Burlamacca. In 2001, the Cittadella del Carnevale was created: a site dedicated to the construction of the floats with 16 large buildings in which the floats are created each year. Now, the Carnevale is held over the span of five weekends, every year.

The Carnevale Must Go On

Currently, the Viareggio Carnevale is a multi million-euro industry with 32 artisan companies involved in the construction of the allegorical floats every year, thus creating jobs and a large income for the local community. Not even the Covid-19 pandemic could stop this carnival. In 2021, this was the only carnival in the world that continued to parade, additionally it was the singular parade that took place in Italy in the year 2022. The last days of festivities in Viareggio 2024 was Saturday, February 24, marking the end of the 151st edition of this Carnival!  

Float Design

Though contestants have no specific theme to follow when designing their floats, oftentimes they vary from social issues, world politics, climate change,and much more, in which they represent social commentary, political satire, and a world of fantasy. These designs are then brought to life with an iron structure and raw materials such as clay, plaster casts, newspapers, glue, flour, and water. 

These intricately detailed floats also take months of preparation and commitment. In June, the contestants propose their bozzetti (drawings), in August there is a month-long undertaking of demolishing the previous year’s floats, and in September the construction of new floats can finally begin.

It’s Not All Fun and Games For These Contestants

Although it may seem as a festive parade to those of us who are tourists, it is actually an intense competition. There are four categories of floats, ranked in order of most important

  • First Category: Floats must have a minimum base size of 84 square meters and a maximum height of 12.5 meters. These floats also have 250 dancers who have been rehearsing their choreographies for the Carnival since September 
  • Second Category: Floats must have the same base as those in the First Category, with a minimum height of 11.5 meters
  • Third Category: There must be six papier-mache sculptures that share the same theme
  • Fourth Category: Design one singular sculpture

There are nine First Category floats, five Second Category floats, nine Third Category Floats, and ten Fourth Category floats.  Each artisan company that partakes in this competition was chosen for the duration of three years, and during each Carnevale they are judged, thus allowing them to be promoted to the First Category or even demoted. This can get very competitive, not only because the winner takes home a cash prize but because they are also given the honor of presenting a three-dimensional model of their winning float to display in the Carnevale Museum.  

Winner of the Carnevale of Viareggio 2024 

In 2024, Jacopo Allegrucci, a graduate from the academy of Fine Arts in Carrara (the decorations section), won best float for the third year in a row. His allegorical floats have become well known throughout the city, The Dreamer (Il Sognatore) in 2022, Fantastic Story (Una Storia Fantastica) in 2023, and most recently his Follow your heart (Va dove ti porta il cuore) float. 

At first glance, these might seem like ordinary floats, however, they each have a much deeper meaning. Allegrucci’s Follow Your Heart float is meant to symbolize the emotions of adolescence: during your adolescence you have many paths to choose from making it a confusing time, and naturally, you may be drawn to a path that may seem innocent but in reality it is trouble covered by a disguise. Therefore, this float demonstrates the patience you must have when these options present themselves to you, and most importantly you must take a moment to listen to your heart. 

This Carnevale fills the city of Viareggio with life and joy, bringing out the best in everyone. These floats symbolize emotion and opinion, it is the city’s way of expression and encouraging creativity. Carnevale of Viareggio has remained and will continue to be a “Celebration to honor the Carnevales deep roots in Viareggio, honoring its past while also proudly looking towards the future”. So next time you are planning a trip to Italy, make sure to stop by the city of Viareggio, it will transport you into a new world of magic and fantasy. 

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