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Carnival in Florence: a whirlwind of colors, masks, and delicious sweets

As you put away the Christmas decorations and sparkling lights in boxes, it's easy to find your mind drifting back to the carefree moments of family celebrations, immediately feeling a sudden nostalgia. A nostalgia that quickly turns into a distant memory as soon as Carnival peeks through the calendar—the most fun and colorful celebration of the entire year.

A celebration we love in Florence, where this event boasts ancient origins and enchanting traditions.

 

Origins from the Past and Timeless Masks

 

The Carnival in Florence traces its roots, according to tradition, to the era of Medici rule. This is evidenced by the passion of Lorenzo de' Medici, who around 1490 wrote the famous carnival song dedicated to Bacchus and Ariadne, intended to be performed by a choir and accompanied by music.

In Florence, the tradition of floats (triumphs) marked the period of festivities leading up to Lent, in a euphoria that involved all social classes. In particular, young nobles chased each other in masks, throwing a ball of rags at whomever they met, confident of not being recognized.

The float parades, festivities, and the custom of playing pranks were maintained during the period of Lorraine domination in Tuscany: the carriage processions, masked balls, dances in theaters, and sumptuous masked gatherings in Piazza Santa Croce were all delightful occasions for amusement.

In the late 18th century, the character of Stenterello was born in Florence: thin and poor, yet clever and irrepressibly ironic. Known as the only mask of the Carnival and the Florentine Theater, Stenterello embodies the festive and playful spirit of the city during this time of year, adding a unique touch to our celebrations.

 

Celebrations in the entire city 

 

The Carnival in Florence is an explosion of energy and colors, with confetti and garlands, songs, and colorful masks. The main streets of the center are adorned with colorful flags, while the air is filled with the irresistible scent of freshly baked sweets. The Carnival in Florence offers the opportunity to experience the city differently than usual, immersing oneself in an ancient tradition and a festive atmosphere like never before. This year, there are many extraordinary events scheduled.

The traditional masked procession traverses the historic streets, eliciting amazed looks and contagious joy. The Grand Ball, held in strict 18th-century attire at Palazzo Vecchio in the magnificent Salone de’ Cinquecento, promises an experience of pure magic. Another not-to-be-missed event is the creative mask contest in Piazza della Signoria, a blend of art and boundless creativity.

The Carnival is also celebrated at sunset when clubs, discos, and pubs offer themed nights with engaging music and lively dances. From refined venues along the riverbanks to more underground places in the heart of the historic center, Florence has the answer you seek for your night of entertainment.

 

Sweetness of Tradition

 

The Carnival in Florence is also an opportunity to satisfy sweet-toothed palates with delicious local treats. The undisputed queens on tables during this time are the fragrant rice fritters covered in powdered sugar, available in every pastry shop in the city. Alongside these are the crunchy "cenci," made of fried dough and dusted with sweet powdered sugar. Finally, but no less tempting, is the "schiacciata alla fiorentina," an exquisite traditional sweet of the city, as soft as a cloud and often filled with fresh cream—an irresistible temptation just to look at.

 

Discover the colorful and charming Florence of Carnival: book your stay at the Grand Hotel Adriatico in the city center.

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