Carnival in Italy, colorful celebrations between fun and tradition

It’s Carnival in Italy, and all regions are busy preparing and having fun according to tradition. I’ve been celebrating carnival in Sardinia since I was a child, for me it was a sacrosanct annual event to be spent out from morning to late night with friends. No other possible option, having fun and getting dressed up with the most unlikely masquerade. Then I grew up, and while carnival hasn’t lost its charm to me, I started looking at it in a whole different way.

Where is the best Carnival in Italy?

Among the most popular Carnival celebrations in Italy are the ones in Sardinia, my hometown, where carnival is always a crucial gathering. Ancestral thousand-year-old rituals such as the one of Mamoiada’s Mamuthones, and the reckless horse tournament of Oristano’s Sartiglia are among my favorite, but also towns like Samugheo and Ottana organize great events, in case you happen in the island around this time of the year, some 40-45 days before Easter, right before Lent. (If you are in Oristano, make sure you contact either Fondazione Sa Sartiglia or the local tourism board if you need any help).

Here is a small collection of some of my favorite images from each of the carnival:

Carnival of Venice

Mask on Venice Laguna

Mask on Venice Laguna

One more floating on the Laguna

One more floating on the Laguna

I love this photo, it gives the idea of the melancoly that Venice has, at least in my mind.

I love this photo, it gives the idea of the melancoly that Venice has, at least in my mind.

Artist performing Il Volo dell'Angelo, coming down from San Marco bell tower.

Artist performing Il Volo dell’Angelo, coming down from San Marco bell tower.

One more from Il Volo dell'Angelo

One more from Il Volo dell’Angelo

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Venice masks always know how to pose in front of a camera.

Venice masks always know how to pose in front of a camera.

I love this photo!

I love this photo!

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Carnival is all about colors!

Carnival is all about colors!

All photos are courtesy of Carnevale di Venezia

Carnival in Sardinia

Oristano’s “Sa Sartiglia”

"Su Componidori" blesses the crowd

“Su Componidori” blesses the crowd

Acrobatic stunts from the saddle

Acrobatic stunts from the saddle

Catching the star

Catching the star

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Horse tournament

Horse tournament

Proud after catching the star

Proud after catching the star

All photos are courtesy of Fondazione Sa Sartiglia

Mamoiada’s “Mamuthones”

The best celebrations of Carnival in Italy

Costume of a Mamuthone

Mamuthones performing the first ritual led by red-clad Issohadore before going out in the streets.

Mamuthones performing the first ritual led by red-clad Issohadore before going out in the streets.

Performing the ritual around the streets of the village.

Performing the ritual around the streets of the village.

The Mamuthone mask

The Mamuthone mask

Close-up of the mask, the uglier, the better.

Close-up of the mask, the uglier, the better.

Carnival of Viareggio

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All photos are courtesy of Carnevale di Viareggio

Carnival of Ivrea

The famous Battle of the Oranges

The famous Battle of the Oranges

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It can't get messier than this!

It can’t get messier than this!

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All photos are courtesy of Turismo Torino e Provincia and Fondazione Storico Carnevale di Ivrea

Carnival of Putignano

Preparing the carriages for the parade for Carnevale di Putignano.

Preparing the carriages for the parade for Carnevale di Putignano.

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All photos are courtesy of Carnevale di Putignano

“Evocative of unbridled fun and colorful costumes, carnival (or carnevale in Italian) originates from ancestral rituals performed in the occasion of the arrival of the warm season to bode well for the imminent harvest. Today, all over Italy, carnival season means wild parties, allegoric carriages and funny masks, and every region proudly preserves their own traditions.

Be it a spectacular parade, an ancient ceremony or a thrilling horse tournament, here are some of the main carnivals in Italy, and depending on your passions, you can pick the type of amusement you prefer and join the fun.”

8 Comments
  1. Wow, all these events look so interesting. I wasn’t aware of some of these traditions until now.

  2. Fascinating! Now I want to do a whirlwind Italy Carnevale tour!

  3. Quel bel article! Et quelles photos! Je conseille à tout le monde les Carnavals de la Sardaigne, ils sont magnifiques et très très originaux!!!

  4. Complimenti, è un articolo molto bello e rende l’atmosfera festiva del Carnevale!

  5. These are INCREDIBLE photos! I absolutely love their costumes. It’s a shame I’m no longer in Venice when this went down :-( Would have loved being there!

  6. Love this! I lived in Italy for five months but it was in the Fall. My only regret about not going in the Spring is I missed Carnival. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Really Magical.. these are awesome photos, a window to all these festivities in Italy. I have never been to Italy, but planning my trip now. Alas I have missed the opportunity to witness Venice Carnival this year, but I hope I get to see it next year. I will be in Venice just for a day, so took the help of an online itinerary planner so I can make the most use of my day in Venice. I will be following an itinerary by an expert http://www.triphobo.com/venice-itinerary-52551e5ce70545590c000000, So hoping for a good day. Also gone through your article on Forbes, I guess all the festivities are in March except the venice carnival. I will sure try to be there in March next year. Thanks so much

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