It’s almost the end of February, which in Italy means PARTY TIME and CARNEVALE!! While most people tend to go the traditional route and pay a visit to Venice for their infamous masked Carnevale celebrations, I decided to be a rebel and head to Viareggio, a small beachfront town in Tuscany, to see what kind of festa these fisherman folk could put on. That, and also I was kind of obligated to bring like 75 students for my new job. Which really isn’t that much different from my old job, come to think of it.
Anyway, we reached the beachfront right on time at 3pm for the start of the parade of floats. There are a ton of different groups that enter, but the ones worth waiting for are categorized into the 1st category, also known as the MEGA ENORMOUS FUCKING RIDICULOUS FLOATS. Yes, that is the official name. Google it.
Of course, as soon as we reach the point of the day where I can stop worrying about everything going smoothly and start having fun, the shit started to hit the fan in the form of drunk college students losing their entry tickets. After a minor detour into my role as the Fun Police (aka phoning my boss to report these idiots and making them all buy new tickets to get in), I finally managed to herd all of the kiddies into the parade grounds and head inside with my co-worker to check out the floats.
Enter the Twilight Zone. No, seriously. If you’ve never heard of Viareggio Carnevale, I strongly urge you to book the next train out to see it. I mean, what could be better than hundreds of Italians all dressed like lunatics on acid?
The best thing about carnivale at Viareggio is that you can literally get all up in the parade’s business. In the States, you’d have about 50 police officers decked out in riot gear holding down the front lines, but in Italy it’s more like, “Nah, whatever. Let’s all throw confetti at eachother and get hammered.” So obviously I had to walk in the middle of the street during the parade to get my groove on with the dancers, which I highly recommend doing while you’re there.
Because it was a) a Sunday and b) the first day in months where it wasn’t pissing down rain, everyone and their mother’s mother was out in town. After about 7 gigantic floats went by, we’d pretty much decided that it was time to head to the beach and put our feet in the sand. And that’s when we ran into the problem of crossing the road when there were 50 foot high paper-mache’ demons crawling down the street and insane costumed dancers everywhere pulling people into the streets.
After a quick game of Italian frogger, we managed to get to the other side of the street and suddenly found ourselves in Hooliganville. Seriously, if every angry Italian teenager within a 100 mile radius wasn’t posted up near the boarded-up beach shacks smoking blunts and drinking a Heineken, then I’m pretty sure there were at least 10 of them. Who knows, it was all a blur of silly string and confetti in my face.
As far as recommendations go, I’d say this: if you’re going to Viareggio for Carnevale, leave your babies and your dogs at home. At times I thought the music from the floats was going to blow out my eardrums it was so loud. I can only imagine what this poor fluffy guy was thinking…but it’s probably along the lines of “Get me the hell out of here. It’s loud as shit and smells like baby poop and dirty paper. Oooh, poop….”
After plopping my butt down on the sand and watching my co-worker and his friends frolick around in the freezing cold water for a bit, I decided to call it a day and head back to Firenze. One wrong turn, an overcrowded train platform and an hour of picking pieces of confetti in my hair, & I finally made it back to Zola and the comfort of my dirty blue couch in Florence.