The Viareggio Carnevale Parade may not have the cachet of Venice's famous celebration, but this crowning event of the six-day festival has an intoxicating, joyful flair.
The 2013 Carnevale begins on January 27th and ends on February 17th. You must book a room early if you want to be a part of the action. The town is about one hour by train from Florence and it's well-worth the journey.
We arrived just as the final parade unveiled itself and the full-day of festivities was amazing. The the little, seaside village goes all-out in the creation of elaborate (and often satirical) floats. People from up and down the coast don costumes and masks. Some of them are parade participants, and others are just gregarious spectators.
As day merges into night, dance parties emerge all over the city.
This is a Mardi Gras with Italian attitude!