Carnevale is one of Italy’s biggest winter festivals celebrated in the weeks before Lent. The final day of Carnevale is Martedi Grasso (Mardi Gras in French, meaning “Fat Tuesday”), the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Martedi Grasso and the Thursday before, Giovedi Grasso (“Fat Thursday”) are the main days of Carneval. Italy is the birthplace of Carnival celebrations, having its origins in the ancient Roman cult of Saturnalia, fertility rites to honor the god Saturn. Cities and towns all over the country celebrate carnival, but the major celebrations are in Venice, Viareggio (on the Tuscan coast) and Ivrea (Piedmont region).
Venice: Jan. 27 – Feb. 13. Venice comes alive with parades, concerts, performances, and grand balls. Venetians consider this festival part of their identity. Throughout carnival, visitors can see the “Best Mask” contests, the Festa delle Marie (a parade), the ongoing Mestre Carnival Street Show and the almost daily Official Dinner Show and Ball, among other events. The famous “Flight of the Angel” takes place on Feb. 4.
Viareggio: Jan. 27 – Feb. 17. Viareggio’s celebration is known for its giant, allegorical papier-mache’ parade floats, some weighing about 40 tons. Every evening there are carnival celebrations in all the city’s different districts. The most famous bars, restaurants, discos, etc. host colorful, all-night masked parties.
Ivrea: Feb. 8 – 13. The Historical Carnival in Ivrea including The Battle of the Oranges is recognized as an “Italian event of International importance.” This time is rich of events, parades, music, and customs rituals. For a truly historical representation of Italy’s Carnevale, Ivrea is the place to be.
Verona: Verona in Love, Feb. 14 – 18. The 14th annual festival of romantic love is held in the city where English writer William Shakespeare’s perhaps most famous play, “Romeo and Juliet,” was set. Visitors can visit Juliet’s House, Juliet’s Tomb, the Lamberti Tower, and the Galleria d’Arte Moderna. Many love-related events will be held, including a final Love Marathon.
Milan: Fashion Week, Feb. 21 – 27. Arguably the world’s capital of fashion, Milan hosts its annual Fashion Week this month. Trend-setting autumn and winter styles of 2018 and a jumping nightlife are sure to wow all those in attendance.
Agrigento: Almond Blossoms Festival, Feb. 4 – 11. Held annually since 1934, this small town in Sicily celebrates the arrival of spring with a week of stories and food. Sicily’s best story-tellers gather under the light pink flowers to swap folklore and eat the local cuisine.