Art & Culture
Carnival celebrations have very ancient origins, so much that they find worthy ancestors in the Greek Dionysian rites and in the Roman Saturnalia, moments – these – of great fun because of the total and licit subversion of all the rules and social hierarchies.
The Carnival celebration in Emilia-Romagna, with its masked parties, dances, colorful floats parades and tasty fried desserts, renews itself every year with the festive cry of “anything goes!” in many of the splendid regional locations.
Below we have selected 5 traditional Carnival events that will allow you and your families to enjoy splendid moments of hilarity and joy in an authentic goliardic spirit!
Historic Renaissance Carnival of Ferrara
It was the year 1509: on December 22nd the brothers Alfonso and Ippolito d’Este completed their glorious victory of Polesella over the Venetian armies.
The 2020 edition – and the related historical parade – of the Renaissance Carnival, which returns in Ferrara from the 20th to the 23rd of February, is dedicated to these two important historical figures.
The perfect opportunity to discover the Este city as it should have appeared in the Renaissance, thanks to the presence of numerous figures – courtiers, ladies, princes, storytellers and knights – who parade through the streets of the historic center, in the squares and within the walls of the scenic Castle Estense.
Numerous entertainment and tasting opportunities are planned by the various city districts (the Palio’s Contrada), which are accompanied by shows, theatrical performances, dances and cultural events.
A few examples? In addition to the historical procession, the heart of the event, we’ll be able to experience the fearful harshness of the trial and medieval torture or be captivated by the evocative projection on the internal walls of Casa Romei, which brings to life the polychromies that originally frescoed this prestigious XV century building.
Carnival on the water of Comacchio (FE)
If you have never seen it, you don’t know what you missed: a unique Carnival with allegorical boats (instead of floats) parading along the canals of the picturesque town of Comacchio, in the Po Delta.
The Carnival on the water of Comacchio returns this year on Sunday 16th and Sunday 23rd of February; as every year, the program is very rich, with shows and dances in the streets of the historic centre, but the highlight of the event is undoubtedly the parade of masked groups and the performance of dance companies to the rhythm of engaging music, on the scenographic Trepponti bridge.
Carnival of Cento (FE)
On Sundays from February 9th to March 8th, the Carnival of Cento is back. It’s one of the oldest in the region: there are references to it even in some frescoes by the famous local painter Guercino dated 1615.
The Cento Carnival, which enjoys of international fame since the 90s thanks to the twinning with the famous Rio de Janeiro Carnival, is famous for its floats up to 15 mt high, which are made during the year from six local carnival associations.
During the Carnival, the associations parade with more than 200 people each in the streets of the town, involving the public in a colorful and festive atmosphere, full of shows and surprises.
On the central stage of Piazza Guercino, moreover, continuous entertainment with musical groups, famous testimonials and the traditional participation of the group of Brazilian dancers and percussionists, to seal the historic twinning between the two carnivals.
On Sunday March 8th, last day of this Carnival, two of the most exciting moments of the whole event will be held: the proclamation of the winner float of the 2020 edition and the Testament of Tasi, or the pyre of the typical local mask, with fireworks in the Piazzale della Rocca.
Historic Carnival of San Giovanni in Persiceto (BO)
Among the oldest and most famous Carnivals in the Bologna area, the Historic Carnival of San Giovanni in Persiceto takes place on Sunday 16th and Sunday 23rd of February under the irreverent aegis of its typical mask, the rough but witty peasant Bertoldo, a character born from the pen by Giulio Cesare Croce in 1600.
The real uniqueness of this Carnival is the “spillo“, the transformation: during the first Sunday of Carnival the allegorical floats parade through the center and, once they reach the central square, the colorful structures are suddenly transformed, revealing a hidden allegorical meaning.
Carnival of Castelnovo di Sotto (RE)
Every Sunday afternoon from 2nd to 23rd of February in the lowlands of Reggio Emilia, the historic Carnival of Castelnovo di Sotto is back, a Carnival characterized by the parades of giant floats (a real form of art for the locals) accompanied by masked groups, musical performances, sporting events and gastronomic moments.
The King of the Castelnovo di Sotto Carnival, which gives the event its name, is Castlein, the traditional local mask with the hat on his ears, the big farmer’s shoes and the high-waist trousers.
Social Media Manager for @inEmiliaRomagna and full-time mom.
I love traveling, both physically and with imagination, thanks to movies and books, and I celebrate every day with a smile.
It might also like
Carnival in Emilia Romagna | Journey through the traditional masks
by Giulia Delaini /// February 4, 2018
Interested in our newsletter?
Every first of the month, an email (in Italian) with selected contents and upcoming events.