The history of the carnival of Milan can be traced back to the 4th century, with celebrations officially starting on Fat Tuesday (more commonly known as Shrove Tuesday). It is believed St Ambrose, the patron saint of Milan, had been away on a religious pilgrimage and insisted on the carnival being extended until his return. This has resulted in an annual tradition, in which a street parade is lead through Milan culminating in an evening party at the Piazza Duomo. Each year the carnival adopts a different theme, in which floats, costumes and theatrical displays have embraced previous topics such as “gluttony” and “opposites”.
There are three main airports into Milan, Malpensa, Orlo Al Serio with Linate being the closest and a €20 return trip on the train. The week long celebrations will involve a street parade throughout the week, which will conclude on the Saturday from Piazza Beccaria during the day before reaching Piazza del Duomo early evening. The parade takes itself through the streets so spectators can join the fun for free, whilst other venues throughout the city have included indoor children events at local museums. These have followed the carnival theme, ranging from free clown workshops to educational talks at the city museums.
The carnival is largely an outdoor event, so check the weather forecast before you travel given it is outside of tourist season. Whilst aimed at all the family, there are special events and workshops for the younger generation which are worth taking part in during the day. Check online for the route of the procession, whilst spend the evening near the Milan Cathedral for a street party that will go on into the night. If you’re wishing to fully embrace the carnival atmosphere, then wear fancy dress and let your hair down.
Look at a selection of apartments and villas, holiday homes, B&B’s and other private rentals close to Piazza Fontana and the Duomo di Milano. If you are staying elsewhere in the city, Milan has a number of transport options to help you arrive at your location. Check our accommodation in Milan.
View Milan from the top of Duomo di Milano, one of the largest cathedrals in Europe. The famous Leonardo da Vinci painting of “The Last Supper” is at the Santa Maria delle Grazie, whilst there are plenty of art galleries in the city. In the evening go to the Teatro alla Scala for a night at the opera.
Further information on the carnival, St Ambrose and Fat Tuesday can be found here including links to Italian Carnivals, the history Saint Ambrose and Ambrosian Rite, Ash Wednesday and more.
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