February 5, 12, 19, 26 & March 5: CARNIVAL. Foiano della Chiana, located a little over an hour southeast of Florence. The oldest carnival in Italy, the Carnival of Foiano della Chiana began in 1539 and is celebrating its 484th edition this year. Parades start at 3 pm.
Carnival in Italy is a time for celebration and gives the community the opportunity to come together. Derived from the Latin word carnevale, which means farewell to meat, the purpose behind carnival is to celebrate the days preceding the period of Lent, a time of penitence for practicing Catholics who also abstain from eating meat on Friday during the period leading up to Easter.
The residents of the small town of Foiano della Chiana in the province of Arezzo will present four floats during the Carnival parade, each created by a town neighborhood. The four competing neighborhoods in the competition are Azzurri, Bombolo, Nottambuli, and Rustici.
The floats, which are worked on for countless hours throughout the year, are made of paper-mâché and confetti. Up to 52 feet tall and range from 26 to 32 feet wide, they move mechanically through the center of town during the event. The extravagant floats are long-awaited by spectators at Carnival, eager to see the bright colors, skill, dedication, and characters that will be featured.
Each float has a theme that portrays a unique story. Aspects of love, war, peace, or change are portrayed by the float. One float is inspired by the Moby Dick novel that encourages those who want to chase their dreams to do so, despite life’s difficulties, and another will present an effective women’s protest during wartime in ancient Greece in a comical manner, providing food for thought. Another will focus on the satire of Charlie Chaplin which provided messages relevant today, and the last float highlights the evolution in thought that humans are all truly the same from the perspective of a Spanish conquistador.
“It is a show that deserves to be seen, thanks to the committee and to all those who work hard in the evenings involved in preparation, often outdoors in the cold,” said Lucia De Robertis, Regional Councilor.
The mascot of carnival, King Giocondo, is celebrated throughout the duration of the event as he is the figure that brings hope and cheer to the streets. In this year’s edition, the Carnival of Foiano will introduce a new show. Two narrators that will both entertain and inform visitors and locals about the rich history of the village and carnival, including the meaning behind King Giocondo.
“King Giocondo is returning to entertain revellers at one of the most beautiful and oldest carnivals in Italy, which enlivens the streets, the squares of Foiano della Chiana. I am happy that the event is back this year,” said Antonio Mazzeo, president of the Tuscan Regional Council.
Every Sunday in Piazza Cavour there will be street food, stands offering free tastings, and food trucks filled with the food and wines of Tuscan cuisine. Sunday mornings will feature cooking demonstrations by chefs on how to make some the most popular Tuscan carnival dishes.
A area designed for children of all ages is Carnevalandia, which offers parades with Disney characters and people in costume andan amusement park-like area with free rides, games, and shows. There will also be the option for crowds to visit art exhibitions and Harley Davidson rallies
“Let’s go back to partying during the Carnival period, after the pause during Covid, except for the 2022 summer edition – we will do it not only by returning of the most suitable season for these time-honored celebrations with pagan roots, but returning to the Carnival that everyone knows and loves, with many side events starting on Saturday every weekend and capped off with the parades of paper-mâché giants,” said Massimo Di Chiara, president of the Carnival Committee. (Parker Hurley)