Sunday, February 14, 2010
Carnevale is the coolest thing ever. Why don’t we have it in America? Basically I just witnessed the best parade I have ever seen or will ever see again in my entire life.
The day started bright and early since we had to be on the bus ready to go at 10am. Luckily I was able to break my fast with a delicious chocolate croissant that my roommate purchased for me at the “secret bakery” they discovered last night. Apparently there are a couple of these secret bakeries in Florence and you have to know where they were since there is no sign on the doors but you just kind of knock and tell them what you want since there is no menu. Shady yes, but quite delicious. Next time I’ll join them for the adventure.
Since I love wearing costumes and have no shame when it comes to dressing up, I decided to don my newly purchased Carnevale mask on the walk to the bus, at 10am, in a city that is no where near the parade. Apparently I was rocking the mask look though because this cute little old man made me “aspetta” while he dug around in his pockets for something. After putting what looked like a piece of foil (aka trash) in my hand he wished me a “Buon Carnevale” and walked away. I opened the trash foil and inside I found a little plastic ring. For some reason I thought it was so cute so in leiu of Valentine’s Day I put the ring on and wore it for the rest of the day.
Anyway, after taking the two hour bus ride to Viareggio, Italy, we stopped just outside the city for “lunch”. This lunch was bigger than any Thanksgiving meal I have ever eaten in my life. It started with bread served with this delicious tomato pesto sauce, then mini quiches, then white bean soup, then lasagna, then this huge plate of meat (but grilled veggies for the vegetarian-my one chance to breath during this meal), then finally it was rounded off with the traditional Carnevale dessert called “cenci” that tastes kind of like funnel cake but crispier. The whole meal was delicious, of course, but incredibly filling.
After they stuffed our bodies with wholesome Italian food, we were all given these rolls of paper that you can break off and blow into to make a streamer. This translated into hours of endless fun and a whole lot of mess. Equipped with our masks, streamers, confetti, and noise makers, we headed into town for the parade. Viareggio is right on the coast of Italy and I’m sure it would be amazing to visit in the summer because it was right on the beach. We all got our tickets to get into the parade and that is when the fun began. Carnevale is kind of like Halloween except that most people aren’t wearing a costume of a particular character but rather they are just dressed up in ridiculous outfits. Most people had on some shade of neon colored wig and crazy amounts of face paint. We pushed our way through the mob of neon haired Italians and we able to get front row views of the most amazing floats ever. The people of Viareggio have these huge wharehouses where they spend all year making these floats. They were HUGE and so detailed and the people riding them looked like they were having a blast. Each float had a different political meaning which was interesting to see because Obama was featured on several different ones. There was music blasting and people throwing confetti everywhere the whole time and basically the whole town was in chaos. I saw one man stand on his porch and just dump what must have been 10 pounds worth of confetti onto the crowd below. The whole experience was so fun and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I’ve posted some pictures here but they really don’t do the floats justice for how spectacular they really were.