Being in Italy for Carnival is already an experience.... but Viareggio... a serious expert-level-10 celebration. Bananas. And even though I read a bit before I went, it was so much more than I could have anticipated.
Riding the train from Florence to Viareggio on a late Sunday morning in February, and you're surrounded by people heading to the little coastal town for their famous carnival (Carnevale), said to be the best in all of Italy. Most people on the train are dressed in 'normal' clothes, with a few exceptions, but this train ride was certainly not an indication of what was waiting for us. Pulling up to the station and you've got breathtaking views of the snow-capped Apuan Alps, and then, between the buildings, glimpses of people in (rather incredible) costumes heading down to the coast for the party.
The closer you get, the more interesting your day becomes. My first photos near the parade were of this wonderful Italian grandmother cheering on her grandson as he threw confetti into the air, and then quickly try to brush it all off.... just to grab another handful and do it again. Plus, she had espresso in a small ceramic cup, on a sidewalk, in the middle of the madness. She's my people.
I feel as though most of these images will speak for themselves, as it is quite difficult to explain the atmosphere at this event. Everywhere you looked, you were met with juxtapositions and contradictions. The floats are MASSIVE, and there are no barriers to the parade- spectators walk freely and even interact with the performers. While most floats were very, very political and heavy in their message, everyone around them- and on them- were filled with joy. Hundreds and hundreds of meticulously costumed performers came with each float, including children. Even more people (a solid ratio of which were dressed in their best Halloween-style getups), were constantly and casually walking side-by-side these dedicated performers and mechanical, paper-mâché works of art. Kids, dressed as puppies and pirates, cowboys and Indians, were playing in the street... directly beside some rather frightening portrayals of some of the least-liked political leaders in the world right now. Needless to say, you would never see this in the US.
And, yes, there were so. many. Trumps. I've included only a few, as there could easily be an entire post on just those floats alone. I will link to a comprehensive float list and description once I find one. This is still happening through the end of February, so if you're in Italy, I implore you to go experience this.