The colourful carnival celebrates a tradition in which locals and tourists often dress in elaborate costumes with masks hiding their face to create an air of mystery, much like that of the masquerade ball. When you think of Mardi Gras, many people will associate it with New Orleans or Rio, but its origins are also captured across Italy. The build up to Easter become party season throughout the country and Florence is no different. Highlights include street parades with decorated floats and performers, as well as the Piazza’s opening up to market stalls and a celebration of food and drink.
Nearest airport for Florence is Amerigo Vespucci Airport, which is an hour and fifteen minutes away from the city centre. The main train station is Firenze Santa Maria Novella which is close to all the main attractions. If you are hiring a car to transfer to wherever you are staying, once in the city it is easiest to travel on foot. Most of the attractions for the carnival are free, celebrations go on into the night however it is best to explore during the afternoon to make the most of your time.
Join in the fun by purchasing a mask, or making your own whilst watching the parade pass you by. If you’re feeling experimental many fancy dress shops in the area will provide you with full costume attire. Check out the squares for more than just the parade, plenty of food and drink will be available at Piazza Duomo. Sample traditional local treats made for the occasion, such as cenci (fried pastry) and schiacciata fiorentina (sponge cake). Most events take place during the day, are free and family orientated, including “animali della Fattoria” at Via San Gallo where an animal themed party takes place for the children.
If you are planning to visit the Florence Carnival, choose from a wide range of private rentals, houses and apartments close to the main squares. Whether you are looking to stay within the city centre most people travel around Florence on foot, making it easy to explore the carnival.
Be sure to explore all the Piazza’s, in particular Piazzale Michelangelo provides the best views of the city as well as being adorned with replicas of the great artists works. Walking tours will take you through the city’s landmarks, including the 19th century domed building of the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore.
To find out more about the history of the Florence Carnival search for: Mardi Gras and its traditions, Fat Tuesday (aka Shrove Tuesday), the Epiphany, Lent and Ash Wednesday or find out more on the carnival masks and their origins.
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