The history of Viareggio's Carnival begins on a Mardi Gras in 1873 with a cheerful parade of decorated carriages in the crowded Piazza del Casinò. Since then, every year, the floats will become more beautiful and luxurious, in a gradual emprovement of materials (wood, plaster and jute), techniques and imagination. Bohemian jokes and a great scenic design, thanks to the cooperation between sculptors, carpenters and blacksmiths. The crisis of the sailing industry, in fact, caused many jobless craftsmen who started to create the first floats. Soon the idea of a carefree pastime evolved and the parade of Viareggio took right from the early years the features, not only of a traditional, but also of a political satire event. The floats were very large, to give youngsters the possibility to get on them, have fun and interact with the crowd, throw confetti, streamers and candies.
In 1921 the colorful carnival defilé paraded for the first time on the elegant sea promenade, and moved to the rhythm of the song '' Coppa di Champagne ", since then the hymn of Carnival. But the real "revolution" arrived shortly later: in 1925 the use of papier-mâché allowed the realization of colossal, but lightweight constructions, capable of hovering in the air defying the law of gravity. An innovation, which will give the title of "wizards of papier-mâché" to the float builders of Viareggio. The glorious reign of Carnival has come, there is just its king missing ...
In 1930 the painter Uberto Bonetti, had the idea of the Burlamacco mask, which appeared for the first time on the official poster of 1931. It is a clown that embodies a puzzle of elements coming from the Italian Commedia dell'Arte masks: the checkered red and white Harlequin jumpsuit, the fluffy pompom from Pierrot's smock, the large white ruff of Captain Spaventa, the red hat of Rugantino, and finally the black billowing cap, typical of Balanzone. The name of "Burlamacco" was inspired by Buffalmacco, a Florentine painter and character of the Decameron. Bonetti replaced the root "buffa" with "burla", already used for the port channel, called "Burlamacca".
Every year since then, Burlamacco jumps down from its pedestal and hand in hand with Ondina, his girlfriend, the start of Carnival is announced by the couple.
image: Fondazione Carnevale
In 2001 the Cittadella del Carnevale arena was inaugurated, a multifunctional complex that houses modern laboratories for the construction of floats and the school of papier-mâché - art, but also a Carnival museum, a multimedia itinerary to enhance and promote the history and culture of the Carnival of Viareggio and all Carnivals in the world.
Themed masked parties in historical buildings of the city. A well-established tradition in the Viareggio Carnival program: A challenge of creativity, wits and sensuality among the participants to gain the title of most original mask.
Hundreds of young people roam the streets of Viareggio disguised as dogs, cats, rabbits, Superman and Spongebob ... But what's going on, did they all go mad? Don't worry everything is under control, they just go to the District party!
At the Viareggio Carnival art is expressed in all its forms. Thanks to a well-established collaboration with great artists every year numerous art exhibitions and other initiatives are the corollary the parades of the big floats.