La Citadella di Carnevale

Northwestern Tuscany

A couple of kilometres from the seafront is 'Carnival City', aka 16 gargantuan hangars that serve as workshops and garage space for the fantastic floats, crafted with passion by each highly skilled and prized carrista (float-builder) for Viareggio's annual carnival. Carnevale history and the art of making teste in capo (the giant heads worn in processions) and mascheroni a piedi (big walking masks) is explained in the on-site Museo del Carnevale (Carnival Museum). Ask about its hands-on papier-mâché workshops.

The largest floats featuring a papier-mâché merry-go-round of clowns, opera divas, skeletons, kings etc are a staggering 20m wide and 14m tall. They take five months to build and carry 200 people each during processions. Stroll around the complex and a carrista will inevitably invite you into his workshop.

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