As the saying goes, "A Carnevale ogni scherzo vale." When it's carnival time, anything goes. Anything, which means that pranks are very common during this 10-day period before Lent. Carnevale is celebrated in Italy and many places around the world 40 days before Easter.The word Carnevale comes from the Latin carnem levare (leave meat), an expression used in the Middle Ages that marked the beginning of Lent. It is a bridge between winter and spring, full of celebrations.In Italy each region has its own typical Carnevale pastries, but all of them have one thing in common: they are all fried seasonal treats and they come from the Roman frictilia, deep-fried pastries prepared during ancient spring festivals.In the Veneto region, the special pastries called crostoli, galani and frittelle are served in pastry-shops, bakeries and cafés. The crostoli are thin dough strips fried and dusted with confectioners' sugar, while the frittelle are similar to small doughnuts.In other regions, they have an endless variety of names: they are bugie (Piemonte), chiacchiere (Lombardia, Puglia, Campania and other regions), frappe (Emilia and central Italy), fiocchetti (Romagna), cenci and struffoli (Tuscany), sprelle (central Italy), meraviglie (Sardegna) and many other variations.Other important carnival items are coriandoli (confetti), and maschere, or masks, and Venice can be considered the main city in Italy for its long tradition of masks' craftsmanship.Carnival in Venice This year Martedì Grasso, or Fat Tuesday is Feb. 25, but celebrations in Venice and many parts of Italy run Feb.8 (or even earlier) through Feb. 25. Masks were and are an absolutely necessary accessory in the traditional Venetian carnival, which is considered the carnival par excellence, maybe because the Carnival of Venice dates back to 1094. Later on, in 1296, a document from the Venetian Senate declared that Mardi Gras, the last day before Ash Wednesday, was a holiday. In old times, Venetians used to put on a mask between October and June (with some breaks and also during important holidays). Nowadays, carnival is shorter than during the 17th century; it lasts about two weeks, but people from all over Europe still wear costumes, go to parades to meet other people, dance and celebrate those 10 days prior to Lent. During this time,not only Venice but many towns and cities throughout the peninsula plan several events, including parades with floats and other related events, such as costume contests and masquerade balls in the main squares, concerts, dances, public parties and theater happenings, especially in the Shrovetide celebrations.Every year, a different theme characterizes the carnival. This year the city in the lagoon will revolve around the theme of love along with games and a pinch of foolishness.One of the biggest celebrations takes place Feb. 15 at 2:30 p.m. with Corteo e Festa delle Marie, Marie's Parade, a grand historical pageant, which departs from the Basilica of S. Pietro di Castello, on the eastern end of the city, and arrives in St. Mark's Square at 4 p.m. The event is a re-enactment in Venice, as well as a unique special occasion to admire the costumes of the Venetian tradition recalling the kidnapping and release of 12 promised brides, which took place at the time of Doge Pietro Candiano III, in 946.In the modern version, the girls between 18 and 28 years old, selected by a qualified jury in the weeks prior to Carnival from 80, are transported on litters and accompanied by more than 300 costumed characters. There, they are presented to the public wearing magnificent costumes of the local tradition. The winner, who will be crowned Mary of the year in St. Mark's Square by the Doge at the end of Carnival, will then be the protagonist - the following year - of the Flight of the Angel, an exciting and spectacular flight from the top of the bell tower of San Marco down to the center of the square.Feb. 16, at noon. In St. Mark's Square, Il Volo dell'Angelo, Flight of the Angel. On that Sunday the most traditional event takes place in the renown square. The Flight of the Angel became popular in the mid-1500s, when a Turkish acrobat reached the top of St. Mark's bell tower walking on a rope from a boat anchored on the pier. On the way down, the young acrobat stopped at the balcony of the Doge's Palace, to pay his respects to the Doge. After an incident, which happened in the edition of 1759, authorities decided that, instead of a youth, a large wooden dove would be used releasing flowers and confetti over the crowd.From then, the event took the name of Volo della Colombina, flight of the dove, and went on until 20 years ago. Since 2001, though, it was decided to re-enact the ancient Flight of the Angel, with the important difference of securing the person who plays the "Angel" with a metal cable for the descent from the bell tower. In 2011, the role of the Angel has been assigned to the elected "Maria" of the previous year. (See Festa delle Marie)Feb. 25, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. in St. Mark's Square, Mask Contest; a special jury judges the most beautiful masks of this years' carnival, previously selected during the week.Feb. 25, at 5 p.m., Svolo Del Leon, Leap of the Lion; from the bell tower of St. Mark, a very large canvas will be slowly descended with the winged Lion, symbol of Saint Mark and Venice. A picturesque ceremony marking the end of the Carnival with a symbolic curtain coming down on the event. At the same time, an arrivederci until the 2021 edition.But carnival is not only in St. Mark's Square. Some festive events with entertainment for children, music, parades of masked groups and allegorical floats, and typical pastries take place especially from Feb. 20-23 on other islands including Pellestrina, Burano and Sant' Erasmo, and in the city of Mestre.Feb. 15 & 16 and from 20-25, in Mestre, Piazza Ferretto, Mestre Carnival Street Show, with a variety of shows, games, performances in the heart of the city; Feb. 23, Il volo dell'Asino, Flight of the Donkey from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., which is the fun version of the sister event that takes place in Venice, the Flight of the Eagle. For more information about the 2020 Venice Carnival visit cities with long traditions, some are renowned for their distinguished Carri Mascherati, carnival floats, such as the ones held in Viareggio, Tuscany, located on the Tyrrhenian coast, about 25 km. from Pisa. (see CARNIVAL CELEBRATIONS IN TUSCANY)Some other locations - in the Vicenza area - also schedule float parades. One of them, Malo, a town only a 10-mile distance from Vicenza, celebrates its 96th edition this year.In Malo, the first preparation for carnival celebrations was discussed in 1868 when the Veneto region was liberated from Austria and the newly formed City Hall Committee published a document about the carnival program.But only in 1924, though, the first official parade appeared with a contest of the participating floats. This year, the parades in Malo will be Feb. 16, 23 and 25; this year the entrance fee is €5 euro for adults, children under 10 are free.Another location where there are annual parades of allegorical floats is Bassano del Grappa: this year they take place Feb. 22-23. Feb. 22, in BASSANO DEL GRAPPA at 9 p.m., a night float parade is scheduled in Viale Parolini, Viale delle Fosse and Piazzale Generale Giardino.Feb. 23, at 2:15 p.m., parade of allegorical floats departs from Viale Monte Grappa (through the Municipality of Cassola), will reach Viale Venezia and then proceed in the squares in downtown Bassano in mid-afternoon. The Majorettes from Nove accompanied by the Banda Musicale of Campolongo sul Brenta will entertain during the event; from 2:30-6:30 p.m., music with the DJ Maurizio Preto and live music with Fabio Reginato Orchestra and Monica Borsato.At 5:45 p.m., in Piazza Libertà, award ceremony NASON D'ORO 2020, where a technical jury will pick the best five parade floats, while the people attending the event will have the opportunity to select their three favorite, for technical quality or for costumes and choreography.Feb. 25, at 2:30 p.m., in Piazza Libertà, music, dance and entertainment, and the contest BAUTINA D'ARGENTO, dedicated to the children for best individual and groups' masks. From 3-5 p.m., in Piazza Libertà, TRUCCO E PARRUCCO, a lab of hairstyles and makeup, in Piazza Garibaldi MAGICO MONDO DELLE GIOSTRE, with bounce houses and little train; at 9 p.m., in Piazza di Brenta, ADDIO AL CARNEVALE, goodbye to the Carnival, with FOGO DEA VECIA IN BRENTA, a traditional torchlight procession near the river by members of the Bassano Diver Club, and live music.Feb. 15 - March 1, 100 ANNI DI CARNEVALE, photo exhibit at Spazio Corona, Largo Corona d'Italia. In case of bad weather, the floats parades will be rescheduled Feb. 29 and March 1. Other events will be cancelled. For information visit CELEBRATIONS IN VENETOCaldogno (Vicenza) Feb. 8, CARNEVALE IN CALDOGNO, in Caldogno, Via Torino, at the parking lot in front of the swimming pool; from 2:30-6 p.m. floats parade, entertainment, music, parties and carnevale sweets; awards for best masks.Casale di Scodosia (Padova) Feb. 9-25, 72th edition CARNEVALE DEL VENETO / CARNIVAL OF VENETO at Casale di Scodosia, 50 km. south of Padova. Carnival float parades on Sundays, Feb. 9, 16 and 23 starting at 2 p.m.; live music entertainment with musicians and bands; entertainment with street artists and carnival rides; food booths in Piazza Aldo Moro, and - on weekends - the Carnival Palatenda, a food tent featuring local specialties.Costabissara (Vicenza) Feb. 15, LA MAGIA DEL CARNEVALE, in Costabissara, in Piazza Vittorio Veneto 4, from 2:30-6:30 p.m., held at the Municipal Auditorium Comunale. A children's carnival party will follow in the square just outside the Auditorium, carnival sweets, masks and entertainment.Jesolo (Venezia) Feb. 1, 2:30 p.m., floats parade and entertainment for children in Cortellazzo, Piazza del Granatiere; Feb. 25, children's party from 2:30 p.m. in Jesolo, at the Grifone Park, Piazza Milano; March 1, at 2:30 p.m., traditional floats parade in Jesolo (in case of bad weather, it will be postponed to March 15); departs from Piazza Aurora towards Piazza Marconi. Lottery tickets are distributed in shops, in the public places of the city and also along the whole parade route. The drawing of the winning tickets is held in Piazza Marconi, at the end of the parade of allegorical floats.Lonigo (Vicenza) Feb. 9, 1:30 p.m. in Piazza XXV Aprile, majorettes, live music and floats parade; in Piazza Garibaldi folk music and dancing, games and entertainment; food stands featuring traditional Carnevale pastries from 11 a.m.Verona Verona Carnevale dates back to 1531, when grain prices rose due to a food shortage. Poor people, especially in the Saint Zeno's area, were facing starvation. A wealthy nobleman, Tomaso Da Vico, donated a large sum for poor people to buy flour and make gnocchi. Da Vico ordered in his will for gnocchi, bread and wine to be given to the people of San Zeno every year on the last Friday before Lent, now called Venardì gnocolar (gnocchi's Friday).Nowadays, in the square of San Zeno there is a stone table; adjacent is the small monument of Da Vico, who died in 1531. A parade goes through downtown Verona to San Zeno Church led by Papà del Gnoco (Gnocchi's dad), a costumed man representing an old king holding a large fork topped by a big gnocco, instead of a scepter. The man who wears this costume is elected in Piazza San Zeno a month before the event. Candidates try to buy people's vote by offering gnocchi and wine. This year marked the 490th election, which took place Jan. 26.Feb. 21,Venardì gnocolar, from 10:30 a.m.-1:45 p.m., gnocchi for everyone in Piazza Brà, near the Arena; at 2 p.m., an historical parade departs from Corso Porta Nuova and arrives in Piazza San Zeno. From Feb. 15-24, Villaggio del Carnevale, Carnival Village in Piazza San Zeno.Feb. 20,at 7 p.m., at Palazzo della Gran Guardia, meeting with the Italian masks. Feb. 23, at 10 a.m., parade in downtown and at 2 p.m. re-enactment of the historical ride of Tomaso da Vico from Corso Cavour to Piazza San Zeno.Vicenza Feb. 22, CARNEVALE DI VICENZA 2020, in Vicenza, from 3-8 p.m.; carnival party for children and adults in downtown Vicenza. Five large carnival floats will parade in the Vicenza historic center to reach Campo Marzo where the party will continue until 8 pm.; at 3 p.m., gathering of the masks and departure of the floats from Piazza Matteotti; 4 p.m., arrival in Campo Marzo.CARNIVAL IN EMILIA-ROMAGNACento (Ferrara) Feb. 9, 16, 23 and March 1-8, from 2 p.m. to 6.30 p.m., CARNEVALE DI CENTO, in the historical center of the city, Piazza Guercino, floats parades. On the last carnival Sunday there will be the Grand Finale with the traditional testament and the proclamation and award ceremony of the winning parade float. The Carnival of Cento is not just about parades of allegorical floats, it's also a month-long celebration in which folklore, traditions, sport, art, culture, flavors, enjoyment and entertainment are intertwined in an atmosphere of great celebration.There will be many side events that will entertain locals, as well as tourists. You can find some of them in the section dedicated to Side Events. Entrance is €16, children under mt. 1,20 free. CELEBRATIONS IN TUSCANYBibbiena Feb. 26-28, in the afternoon, RIEVOCAZIONE DELLA MEA, door to door music and bonfires. The origins reach as far back as 1350, when Bibbiena was ruled by the powerful Tarlati family. So now every Martedì Grasso, Fat Tuesday, the legend tells us that the two competing factions in Bibbiena gather to vindicate a Ms. Mea - who was caught between two loves - with songs and dancing in Medieval costumes.Castiglion Fibocchi (Arezzo) Feb. 9-16, 24th CARNEVALE DEI FIGLI DI BOCCO, the entire town transforms its squares, streets, and roads into a scene of fantasy where over two hundred people parade around in bright and luminous costumes hiding their faces behind masks of fantasy. Photo exhibit, street food with samples and sale of local specialties; at 2:30 p.m., entertainment with clowns, acrobats and magicians and live music; at 5:30 p.m. historical parade and election of this year's best mask. Other events are also scheduled Feb. 8-15. In Piazza Ognissanti from 2 p.m., CARNIVAL OF KIDS; free admission.Foiano della Chiana Feb. 2, 9, 16, 23 & March 1, CARNEVALE DI FOIANO, it is one of the oldest in Italy, is located south of Arezzo and it comes alive with colorful floats and costumes in February/March parades.Follonica (Grosseto) Feb. 2, 9, 16 & 23, at 2:30 p.m.; 53th edition CARNEVALE FOLLONICHESE, floats parades accompanied by the city musical band.The tradition of carnival in Follonica started in 1910 and has transformed over the years creating the fun and enthusiastic atmosphere that we experience today. The 8 districts of the town compete with papier-mâché masks and allegorical floats. (Lucca) Feb. 2, 9,16, 23 and March 1, floats parades and entertainment start at 2:30 p.m.; creations made of balloons, live music and face painting. The CARNEVALMARLIA started in early '900s, although the first photographs in black and white date from the 20s, where a crowd surrounds what was to be one of the first cars seen in the area, and only the car is really dressed up to make you think of a Carnival party. Other vintage photos from the 30s, 40s and 50s show how the floats were built with papier-mâché. Throughout the years, they became bigger and more colorful than the way they looked in the past. http://www.carnevalmarlia.orgPiombino Feb. 22-25, CARNEVALE IL CICCIOLO, the character "il Cicciolo" is also known as the King of Wine, and is normally represented as a jolly, drunk float making his way down the streets of Piombino. He doesn't make it far because tradition has him burned at the stake on Fat Tuesday in Piazza Bovio. The flames serve as a signal that the fun and games are over and Lent has begun for the Easter season.San Gimignano (Siena) Feb. 2, 9, 16 & 23, from 2:30 p.m., floats parade, with live music, dancing, confetti and entertainment for children. Feb. 10, CARNEVALE PER BAMBINI, children's carnival, from 2-6 p.m. games and fun especially for the kids.Borgo San Lorenzo Feb.10, 17 & 24, BAMBINI E NON SOLO; from 2 - 6 p.m., games and fun especially for the children, in the city center.Viareggio Feb.1-25, CARNEVALE DI VIAREGGIO / CARNIVAL IN VIAREGGIO; the carnival celebrates its 147 years of life under the sign of a vivid tradition, such as the long-established European tradition of Carnival festivals. It is no doubt one of the best known events in Italy. Each year, the Viareggio Carnival attracts more than 600,000 spectators gathering to attend the magic of the grand parades of large floats in papier-mâché. In 2020, the float parades will take place on Feb. 1, 9, 15, 20, 23 and 25, along the seaside boulevards.This year, the month-long event will celebrate the bonds between generations with well-known special guests: mothers, fathers, sons and daughters who have left their mark in the worlds of art, culture, science, entertainment, business and sports. This carnival, created in 1873, is still characterized by giant allegorical papier-mâché floats, the biggest ones weighing about 40 tons and reaching 14 meters in length. Local artisans dedicate the whole year between carnivals to this work of art making floats and puppets that participate in the carnival parades.Today still using the old knowledge that goes back to the ancient 'trionfi' (war-victory feasting) of the Renaissance, utilizing the building techniques of the big sailing boats, a pride of Viareggio traditions. The parades take place in a ring-like circuit, 2 km-long - just over a mile - on the seaside avenue of Viareggio, best known as La Passeggiata.Program: � Saturday Feb. 1 at 4 p.m.: Opening Ceremony,and 1st Giant Float Parade at 5 p.m.followed by a musical fireworks display � Sunday Feb. 9 at 3 p.m.: 2nd Giant Float Parade � Saturday Feb. 15 at 5 p.m.: 3rd Giant Float Parade (Evening) � Thursday Feb. 20 at 6 p.m.: 4th Giant Float Parade (Evening) followed by a musical fireworks display � Sunday Feb. 23 at 3 p.m.: 5th Giant Float Parade � Tuesday Feb. 25 at 3 p.m.: 6th and final Giant Float Parade; an award ceremony and musical fireworks display will conclude the month-long event. Visitors need to purchase a ticket, which costs €20 for adults, €15 (under 14); free for children (up to mt 1,20-tall, approximately 4 feet). For more information visit www.viareggio.ilcarnevale.comCARNIVAL CELEBRATIONS IN OTHER REGIONSSan Giorgio di Resia (Friuli Venezia Giulia) Feb. 20-26, CARNEVALE IN VAL RESIA / RESIANO CARNIVAL The Resiano Carnival is celebrated in the small village of S.Giorgio/Bila in the province of Udine. The local people wear two different traditional masks: the lipe bile ma�kire, the beautiful and precious masks, or the Babaci /Kukaci, which are the ugly ones, with old and worn-out clothes. Usually, this carnival starts on the last days, such as on Fat Thursday (Jojba Grasa) on Saturday evening, Sunday (Püstawa nadëja), Monday, Tuesday (TeVlïki Püst) and ends one day after the other carnivals, that is the day of 'Ash Wednesday' (Te din na pëpël). In the past, the day of Epiphany (Pernahti) marked the beginning of the carnival celebrations. (Viterbo, Lazio) Feb. 9-25, CARNEVALE DI RONCIGLIONE; the Carnival of Ronciglione is among the oldest in central Italy and considered one of the most beautiful carnivals in Lazio. Ronciglione, a small town in Tuscia (Lazio region), is enriched with events, parades and ancient traditions. Feb. 9-16-23 at 3:30 p.m., Cavalcade of the Hussars, which evoke the defense by these knights of the Papal State; continue with the Corse dei Barberi, a horse race without a jockey, in which the horses gallop through the streets of the town alone. Music, entertainment and masks in Piazza della Nave. The origin of the Barberi races is to be found in the Roman carnival; it is documented, in fact, that in Rome in Via Lata, the current Via del Corso, during the Carnival there were horse races without a jockey starting from the pontificate of Paul II Barbo (1464-1471). Traditional masks are Nasi Rossi, Red Noses; they are masks that represent the devotees to the god of wine Bacchus. www.carnevaledironciglione.orgFrosinone (Lazio) Feb. 25, CARNEVALE DI FROSINONE; the Carnival in Frosinone is a historical carnival, which is celebrated every year on Mardi Gras. It is integrated with the Feast of Ràdeca which are, in the dialect of Frosinone, the leaves of Agave, the symbol of fertility. The Historical Carnival in Frosinone is inspired by the citizens' revolt against the French troops that occurred in 1798 and 1799. The Carnival ends with the incineration of "King Carnival" represented by a puppet symbolizing a French General, called Championnet. (Puglia) Feb. 9- 29, CARNEVALE DI PUTIGNANO / PUTIGNANO CARNIVAL: it is recognized as the oldest Carnival in Europe. The four parades take place on Feb. 9, 16, 23 & 25. This year it ends on Feb. 29 (leap year) with a big Pentolaccia. Farinella (local mask), a clown wearing the city colors, opens the parade of Putignano Carnival. Farinella is also the name of a traditional food similar to a chickpea and barley flatbread. Every year, Putignano chooses the Carnival's main theme from which the floats draw inspiration; the 2020 theme is "How Carnival sees the Earth". The Carnival Foundation is committed to environmental sustainability, for this reason, uses only recycled papier-mâché and plastic free eco-friendly materials. (Nuoro, Sardinia) Feb. 16- 28, CARNEVALE A MAMOIADA; the carnival of Mamoiada, a small town in the province of Nuoro, is a festival in full Sardinian style, with the characteristic masks of the Issohadores and the Mamuthones. The Issohadores wear red bodices, white masks, caps and a small shawl, and escort the Mamuthones, who wear sheepskins, wooden masks and carry the "sa carriga" on their backs, heavy bells, about 30 kg, more than 65 lb.