February in Tuscany is the month of carnival and lots of towns celebrate it with colourful masked parades and decorated streets.
Here is a guide to Carnivals in Tuscany. Discover them and enjoy the great party of Carnival.
Viareggio Carnival is the most famous of the lot in Tuscany, with five big parades throughout February, during which residents put on masks and costumes prepared in the months leading up to the festival.
The carnival of Viareggio is renowned for its satirical floats made of papier-mâché. If you haven’t seen a float before, you can’t even begin to imagine how big they are: the floats’ maker needs a special place to build them, called a hangar (like the ones used to house airplanes!). If you are lucky enough, they’ll let you in to see these handmade wonders.
The parades are not the only event during the month: there are also parties held in the various neighbourhoods of the city, called “rioni”.
Here is the link to the official website of the Viareggio Carnival. Read more about it in these post, if you like:
In Versilia, there are other smaller carnivals near Viareggio, for example, in the town of Pietrasanta. The “Carnevale Pietrasantino” has taken place in the streets of the town centre since the early twentieth century.
During the parades, important historical moments for the town are remembered. Currently, the event includes masked parades with papier-mâché floats, which are usually held for three consecutive Sundays (in 2017 the dates are February 12th, 19th, 26th). There's also a Mardi Gras event (on February 28th) dedicated to children in Piazza Matteotti.
A few days before the Carnival is held, you can also enjoy the Theatre Festival in local dialect at the Teatro Comunale di Pietrasanta. Visit the website of the Pietrasanta municipality for more details.
The Marlia Carnival is dedicated to children and has “Il Marillone” as a mascot. Characterizing the parade are 4 papier-mâché floats representing the 4 neighbourhoods of the village built by locals in their spare time.
In 2017, the parades are taking place every sunday from February 5th to March 5th. Check out the Facebook page here.
The Carnevale di Veneri (a hamlet part of the Pescia municipality) reaches this year its 36th edition. The program includes three full days of fun� for the whole family (January 29th, February 5th and 12th as for 2017).
There is a parade with floats, people in carnival costumes and folk groups.
Have a look at the official website of Veneri Carnival.
The Carnival of Bientina, dating back to 1939, celebrates its 30th anniversary. Here you can find people in masks, float parades and folk groups to delight kids and adults alike.
There is also a fireworks display to close the festival.
In 2017, the colourful floats will parade through the streets on February 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th and 28th. More info on the website, here.
The Santa Croce Carnival is an authentic folk festival where the creativity and imagination of the people create unique and beautiful masks.
The four masked local groups are committed with their sumptuous costumes covered in sequins, parading on "fossi" (the central square of the village) with choreographies.
The parade of Santa Croce dates back to 1928. As for 2017, the main events will take place on February 5th, 12th and 19th, find out more details on the website.
The Cecina Carnival was founded in 2010 and it is one of the most recent carnivals in Italy. Despite this, the festival aims to become a leading event in Tuscany.
The parades, taking place this year on February 5th and 12th, are just some of the events on schedule: the streets of the town centre will be brought to life by a number of side events and performances, making the carnival in Cecina truly unique. Learn more here.
Another important carnival festival in Tuscany is held in Piombino. The Piombino Carnival has strong historical roots and was restarted by the Pro Loco association of Piombino in 2008.
It has been held since 1927 and the central figure of this event is the "Cicciolo", a cardboard mask representing a man holding a glass of wine, which at the end of the event is burned in the city's main square (Piazza Bovio) in front of thousands of people.
Follow the official Facebook page.
The Follonica Carnival is called Carnevale Follonichese and began in 1910 with a ball. It currently boasts a packed program with a parade of papier-mâché floats, masked parades, tournaments, parties, exhibitions and music.
As for 2017, the parades will be held on February 12th, 19th and 26th.
Discover more on the website of the Carnevale Follonichese.
In the Maremma area of Tuscany you can also find the “Carnevaletto da Tre Soldi” in Orbetello, dating back to 1953. It is a parade with floats and masked groups along Corso Italia, where people throw candy and confetti on the crowds made of children and families.
There are also itinerant street artists who delight people with their performances. At the end of the parade, the best float is awarded.
In 2017 the main events are taking place on February 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th 28th and on March 5th. Visit the Facebook page here.
The carnival of Foiano della Chiana, in the surroundings of Arezzo, has been held since the Middle Ages and can boast of being one of the oldest carnivals in Italy! Here, the main character is the King of the Carnival, a fake figure with a mask made of hay and dressed in rags that is burned in a bonfire, the Rogo Giocondo, at the end of the event.
The dates of the 2017 celebrations are February 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th and March 5th.
Read also our post Foiano della Chiana Carnival: a 365-days celebration and visit the official website for more info.
The Castiglion Fibocchi Carnival, also known as “Carnevale dei figli di Bocco” (or Carnival of the Sons of Bocco), takes place a few kilometres from Arezzo and it's an age-old event with participants dressed in costumes and papier-mâché masks.
During this Carnival you can find street performers, theatre, food stalls and colourful parades!
This year this peculiar carnival takes place on February 12th and 19th. Check out the official website.
The Carnival of San Giovanni Valdarno is one of the oldest of Tuscany.
In addition to the masked parades, the village boasts the tradition of “Uffizi di Carnevale”, dating back to 1675. This ancient tradition of San Giovanni is celebrated in the five Sundays before Mardi Gras and has a religious meaning; that is, to celebrate the dead with offerings to the oratory of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
Even today the tradition is held in the Basilica with meals based on local recipes and typical stew of San Giovanni, preceded by a parade of the cart with pageboy in costume.
The Mea Carnival in Bibbiena is related to local history, but there are also masks, food, dancing and celebrations that evoke a dramatic story of war and siege that, in the fourteenth century, saw the city of Bibbiena at the centre of a dispute for power.
The “Carnevale Mugellano” in Borgo San Lorenzo is an event for all ages where everyone can have fun with lots of music, confetti and streamers.
The program of events includes parades of floats, trains and boats.
In 2017, you'll be able to take part to carnival on February 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th and 28th. Learn more on the Facebook page.
The Carnival on the Two Banks (Carnevale sulle due rive) or the Spicchio and Sovigliana Carnival is famous for its floats of considerable size, which offer hospitality to all who love colours. In fact, children, parents and grandparents can actually ride on them, guaranteeing fun for everyone.
The masked parade carnival of Clove and Sovigliana takes place along Viale Togliatti and on Shrove Tuesday, the last day of the carnival, the parade takes place at night, followed by the traditional bonfire of the Carnival King and a fantastic fireworks display. Contour to the event is a market of typical food and handicrafts.
In Siena there are 17 carnivals, one for each district (contrada). This is a special chance to immerse yourself in the spirit of this city. The afternoon is dedicated to children with games and the evening is for adults with masked parties and performances.
Do not miss the gastronomic events.
There is also the game of “pentolaccia”, shows of magicians, contests of jokes and live music. Mardi Gras is celebrated all together in the Piazza del Campo, a large open-air theatre (free admission).