Exploring Carnevale in Italy

Let’s talk here about the amazing Carnevale holiday in Italy, where people dress up, have fun, and celebrate together!

Exploring Carnevale in Italy

The Tradition

Carnevale is a big celebration held in Italy in which people parade, dress up, and have fun. It’s a time when towns and cities come alive with music, dancing, and happiness.

The name Carnival comes from the Latin “carnem levare“, which means “to remove meat”. Carnival was the final occasion for eating meat, as people fasted from it for the next forty days of Lent (Quaresima).
Lent is 40 days before Easter when some people preparing for the holiday. So, Carnevale is like a joyful and colourful farewell to regular routines!

The exact dates can change each year, but Carnevale usually kicks off in January or February and lasts until the day before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. It’s a time when people let loose, enjoy festivities, and create wonderful memories.

Everyone gets to dress up for Carnevale! People wear all kinds of costumes, from kings and queens to superheroes and animals. The streets are full of colours, showing off how creative Italians can be.

Exploring Carnevale in Italy

Traditional Food Of Carnevale In Italy

You can’t celebrate Carnevale without eating yummy snacks! Try “chiacchiere“, or “frappe” which are crispy pastries with sugar on top, or “frittelle,” which are fried dough filled with tasty cream. These treats make the festival even more fun!

frappe o chiacchiere Exploring Carnevale in Italy

Additionally, Castagnole (or Castagnola) are a traditional Italian Carnevale dessert. The shape of this fried small ball recalls chestnuts, hence its name comes from Castagna, the Italian word for chestnut.

castagnole Exploring Carnevale in Italy
Di Massimo Telò – Opera propria, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18450070

Famous Places to celebrate Carnevale

While Carnevale is celebrated all over Italy, some places are especially famous for their unique traditions and grand celebrations:

  1. Venice (Veneto): Known for its magical masked balls and elegant costumes, Venice hosts one of the most famous Carnevale celebrations in the world. The city’s historic charm becomes even more enchanting during this time.
VENEZIA Exploring Carnevale in Italy
  1. Viareggio (Tuscany): This coastal town in Tuscany is renowned for its very big and artistic parade floats. The Carnevale di Viareggio is a spectacle of creativity and craftsmanship, attracting visitors from near and far.
Viareggio Exploring Carnevale in Italy
Di Deborah75 – Opera propria, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37758733
  1. Ivrea (Piemonte): If you fancy a bit of excitement, head to Ivrea in northern Italy. Here, they have a tradition called the “Battle of Oranges.” Yes, you read it right – a massive orange-throwing fight that adds a thrilling twist to Carnevale!
Ivrea Exploring Carnevale in Italy
Di Giò – Borghetto Battle of Oranges – Battaglia delle Arance 2007 – Ivrea, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9094053
  1. Putignano (Puglia): In the south, Putignano boasts one of the oldest Carnevale celebrations. The town is filled with parades, music, and a lively atmosphere that captures the true spirit of the festival.
Putignano Exploring Carnevale in Italy
  1. Cento (Emilia Romagna): Cento’s Carnival, rooted in 1615, boasts timeless traditions. The symbolic king, Tasi, is burned in a grand finale with fireworks. Twinning with Rio’s Carnival in 1993, Cento’s parades feature allegorical floats and lively crowd interactions. Celebrated for five Sundays before Lent, it’s a vibrant showcase of cultural heritage.
cento Exploring Carnevale in Italy
Di Marunzén – Opera propria, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20453329

The Delightful Dance of Coriandoli at Carnevale!

In the lively streets of Italy during Carnevale, a tiny but mighty element adds an extra layer of joy – Coriandoli! These colourful bits of confetti transform the atmosphere into a playful dance of colours.


What are Coriandoli?: Imagine small, round, and vibrant pieces of paper floating through the air like cheerful snowflakes. That’s coriandoli! These delightful specks of colour bring a sense of magic and celebration to Carnevale festivities.

During Carnevale, people joyfully toss coriandoli in the air, creating a scene of colour and laughter. It’s a tradition that adds to the festive spirit, encouraging everyone to join in the playful dance of celebration.

Coriandoli are more than just bits of paper; they symbolize the exuberance and carefree nature of Carnevale. As they twirl through the air, they leave behind a trail of happiness, making every moment during the festival truly special.

Carnevale’s Grand Parade: Carro Allegorico

As Carnevale sweeps across Italy, one of the most captivating spectacles unfolds in the form of the “Carro Allegorico.” This grand parade float is not just a decorative masterpiece; it’s a vibrant storytelling canvas that brings the spirit of Carnevale to life.

Carro allegorico

What is Carro Allegorico?: Picture a float adorned with complex designs, colors, and animated characters. The Carro Allegorico is a mobile work of art, often with a theme or story, making its way through the streets during Carnevale parades.

Local communities invest immense creativity in crafting these floats, each telling a unique story or conveying a message. Whether it’s a mythical tale, a historical event, or a whimsical scene, the Carro Allegorico becomes a moving masterpiece, captivating onlookers.

Carro Allegorico takes centre stage during the Carnevale parades, becoming the heartbeat of the celebration. Accompanied by lively music, dancers, and participants in elaborate costumes, the float glides through the streets, captivating spectators with its presence.

Crafting the Carro Allegorico is a collaborative effort that involves the entire community. Local artisans, artists, and volunteers join forces to ensure that the float becomes a symbol of unity, creativity, and the collective spirit of Carnevale.

As the Carro Allegorico passes by, it’s not just a rich visual experience; it’s a sensory experience. The cheers of the crowd, the music, and the dynamic energy make it an unforgettable part of the Carnevale celebration.

Carnival Vocabulary And Expressions

Martedì GrassoShrove or Fat Tuesday (the day in which Carnival falls)
Mercoledì delle CeneriAsh Wednesday (the day after Fat Tuesday)

What’s next?

You might want to keep learning Italian online with these free resources:

Top 6 Italian Christmas Traditions

What's next?
Facebook group


Join and visit our Facebook Group for Italian Learners


Follow Italian Tutor for Easitalian:

Your coach to learn and improve Italian language

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.