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Frida Kahlo at Viareggio Carnival, Italy

24 February 2019

The Viareggio Carnival celebrates in 2019 146 years of life under the sign of a vivid tradition such as the long-established European tradition of Carnival festivals. It is no doubt one of the best known events in Italy. Each year the Viareggio Carnival attracts more than 600.000 spectators gathering to attend the magic of the grand parades of large floats in papier-maché.  

The peculiarity of the Viareggio Carnival consists in giant, allegorical papier-maché floats - the biggest ones weighing about forty tons - and expresses today the old knowledge that goes back to the ancient ‘trionfi’ (war-victory feastings) of the Renaissance, adhering even more to the building techniques of the big sailing boats, a pride of Viareggio traditions. 

Unique in the world in size, movement, choreography and sensational nature, the giant Carnival floats are true allegorical machines that travel along a ring circuit on the seaside Promenade of Viareggio between breathtaking Liberty buildings and extraordinary squares overlooking the beach. Paper-mâché rules supreme, or better casted and molded paper does. Viareggio-born painter and builder Antonio D’Arliano invented this technique in 1925. Over the years, it has allowed the construction of increasingly large floats that at the same time are quite light. Models in clay, plaster casts and newspaper and glue made of flour and water are the simple ingredients of the greatest show on earth of its kind. Thanks to a unique artisanship, the philosophy of reusing and recycling are the cornerstones of the Carnival of Viareggio.