The Quest for Carnival in Italy

04 March 2013

The recent holidays had me reflecting on my time in Europe and I remembered that I was actually on break during the festival of Carnival which inspired me to set up a trip to Italy. The stops were Milan, Pisa, and Rome. And while I know Venice is the place to go for truly experiencing Carnival, my travel plans just didn't lead me that way. But I assumed I would be able to still enjoy Carnival in other Italian cities, right? 


Signs and media tents for fashion week; a bit of confetti

Nothing but traces of Carnival here. I suppose the city was a little more preoccupied with the fact that it was also Fashion Week. I didn't mind so much not finding any Carnival festivities here since I was too busy spotting fashion models. 

The Field of Miracles
*sigh* No sign of Carnival at all in this city except for vendors selling masks. I guess that's what I get for only spending an afternoon in this historic city!


Finally, though the scale was small, we found some festivities! In Plazza Navona you can see people dressed in 18th century costumes and masks but my favorite attractions were in Plazza del Popolo; Stilt walkers, jugglers, and stands selling art and food. Also, an arena was set up for horse events which were free to enjoy! My friend and I sat and watched the games for a good hour. My favorite was an event in which riders were split into teams of red and blue and had to grab bows from each others' arms. 

As fun as this was, this really was the extent of Carnival  that I saw during my trip to Italy. My fantasies of big, costumed parades fueled by music and alcohol were not realized. While this was a bit disappointing, I think I learned a lesson in traveling: being frugal means making sacrifices. I specifically chose my path of travel because it was cheapest (I flew with RyanAir, into Milan and out of Rome), knowing I wouldn't be able to go to Venice. I made an assumption that I could be thrifty and still enjoy the festivities and I was wrong. Sometimes you've got to dish out the dough if you want to get an experience.

Is there any time you wish you had spent a little more money for the sake of creating a amazing memory?

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