First time I visit Viareggio was back in March of 2011 when the carnival just have finished and streets were still covered with colourful paper flakes like a snow of joy.
Three years later in March I had the chance to witness for the first time one of the most relevant carnival celebrations in entire Italy: Carnevale di Viareggio.
The first edition happened to be in the end of 19th century, in 1873 when some wealthy locals disguised themselves as a sign of protest against the increasing taxes.
Later, in 1930 the futurist artist from Viareggio, Uberto Bonetti created the official mascot called Burlamacco. Named after one of the main channels crossing the city, Burlamacca, the cheerful figure dressed in a black and red costume keeps waving at the carnival crowd from flags all over the town.
Undoubtedly, what remains the most favourite attraction of the event are the gigantic colourful puppets – allegorically referring to a political or social issue.
The estimated time for their creation is about an year. In the past the only one material used was the cartapesta, papier-mâché, but recently other elements like polystyrene were added.
Sadly enough, in the end of the Carnival all the puppets get destroyed and their creators quickly roll up their sleeves to come up with ideas for the next year.
What I always find fascinating is the festive spirit reigning over the streets: carnival songs are broadcasted all over the place, children and grownups are camouflaged like fairies, super heroes or.. pieces of food, you could literally have an overdose of sugar cotton and panino con pancetta, street dances are encouraged and creativity is celebrated.