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Together with Rio de Janeiro, Venice boasts the most colorful, attractive carnival in the world. Held in February, it begins after Epiphany and ends the day before Ash Wednesday, but the main events take place in the ten days before Lent.
It is the time for plays and musical performances put on in the main city campi (tiny, narrow squares as calli are tiny, narrow streets), and for balls hosted by the oldest Venetian families in the most luxurious palazzi. During Carnival the city is filled by a masked, dressed up crowd that act as if in the XVIII century, performing the gallantry tipycal of the Serenissima life style.
Le maschere italiane (italian mask-characters) Una canzone per bambini (a children song) Girotondo girotondo noi giriam per tutto il mondo e con noi portiam la gioia ch'è nemica della noia! Pulcinella e Balanzone Meo Patacca e Pantalone Peppe Nappa il siciliano e Brighella ch'è toscano!
This children song tells you about few of the characters from commedia dell'arte, a form of popular theatrical performance with origins in the XVI century that was held in the piazze by actors that improvised comedies starting from the few lines of a canovaccio. The most popular mask characters are Arlecchino and Pulcinella, the care-free, cunning types. Balanzone is a Bolognese mask and portrait the "dotto" and a little pedantic type, while Pantalone is the one who always pays for everybody!
So, to be called a Pantalone in Italy is not a compliment! The carnival of Venice is not the only Italian carnival! The carnival of Viareggio (in the province of Lucca, Toscana) is also incredibly spectacular.
A particular of this carnival is that other than just dressing up in costume, one can also watch a wonderful parade of floats. These floats carry enormous figures or constructions in papier maché that represent people and scenes of Italian life, as well as costumed people whose job it is to throw candies and chocolate at the crowd! It's authentic fun for adults and children!
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