By Claudia Quesito
February, AKA Carnival Month
On the second weekend of February, several cultural events began. On the eleventh, the Carnaval de Nice kicked off. On the twelfth, the Carnevale di Viareggio and the Fête du Citron® of Menton started.
Nice and Menton are in France, but they are very close to Italy, both geographically and culturally. Nizza and Mentone, as Italians call them, are probably the most Italian of the French cities.
Menton literally marks the Italian-French border. Nizza, a little further west, was ceded by Italy to France in 1860 and is the birthplace of one of the most celebrated Italians, Giuseppe Garibaldi.
The 2022 edition of these three major events is necessarily different from past ones, but colors, music, and magic are still guaranteed!
Fête du Citron, a Zest-flavored Carnival in Menton
The Fête du Citron® (Lemon Festival), also known as Carnaval de Menton, has been taking place since 1934. At that time, Menton was the biggest lemon-growing area in Europe.
From citrus-themed exhibitions to floats made with oranges and lemons, it’s all about citrus, indeed. Fun facts: 180 tons of citrus fruit are involved each year; 1,000,000+ rubber bands are needed to display the fruit; and twelve people each day are in charge of replacing any deteriorated fruit.
The 2022 theme is Opéras et Danses. The Orchestra Filarmonica from Piemonte will perform Giuseppe Verdi’s La traviata.
On the ballet front, the Kyiv National Ballet Opera will enact Giselle, the masterpiece from Adolphe Adam.
Viareggio and Nice: Floats & Flowers
It might not get the hype reserved for the Carnevale di Venezia (after all, Venice is an unmatchable location for any event); still, the Carnevale di Viareggio has its own magic, and attracts people from all over the world.
Viareggio is a popular seaside resort in the Lucca province in northern Tuscany. The Carnival has been taking place since 1873.
Its main feature is a parade along Viareggio’s main promenade, the Passeggiata a mare, with papier-mâché floats. There is no official theme; instead, the choice is left to the creativity and the legendary colorful sense of humor of the Tuscan people.
Politicians, soccer players, people from showbiz, as well as international personalities—no one is safe from the satira.
Floats are a major feature in Nice, too. The Carnaval de Nice is one of the world’s major events of its sort, and its earliest record dates back to 1294. The Carnival as we know it now—with masquerades and parades of floats—was inaugurated in 1873.
Each year a theme is selected (the 2022 one being The King of the Animals); from there, a whole crew of artists, from illustrators to float builders, craft papier-mâché floats for the main parade.
In addition, a flower battle takes place on the four-mile-long Promenade des Anglais. While flower-covered floats parade the street, 250,000 flowers and 21 tons of mimosas are handed out to the audience.
The flowers, along with the mild temperatures the Côte d’Azur often features in February, are a welcome taste of spring and, hopefully, the 2022 edition of the Carnaval de Nice will be no exception.
Photo credit: Viareggio Carnival website
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