The city of Viareggio is best know for its carnival, which is one of the most famous in the world. The tradition dates back to 1873, when a discussion between a group of rich bourgeois at a table in Caffe Casino gave birth to the idea of organising a procession of floats to celebrate carnival and to protest against the ever increasing taxes they were having to pay.
The first floats were made of wood, and were built along the docks of the city. However, after the First World War, during which time the carnival almost disappeared altogether, the people started making the floats out of papier-mâché. The first processions took place in 1921 along the seafront, and in 1925 th first papier-mâché float – the “Carnival Horsemen” designed by Antonio D’Arliano – made its first appearance. The traditional Viareggio mask, the Buffalmacco, dates back to 1930 and was the brainchild of Uberto Bonetti, who painted it next to the innocent bather, Ondina, in the procession of 1931. Carnival was suspended during the Second World War, but was immediately re-established in 1946 and has taken place every year without fail ever since. Today, Carnival is celebrated with processions every Sunday between January and February. Processions are composed of enormous papier-mâché figurines representing famous political, cultural, sporting or TV personalities. The processions take place along
the sea front, which stretches for three kilometres between the beach and the liberty style seafront houses.
Photos © APT Versilia