Carnival in a square in Florence: Clown on stilts in a harlequin costume entertaining the crowd.

The Carnival of Florence: the history, Stenterello and the parade in the historic center

On January 28, 2024, Florence dresses up for the Carnival parade.

History of Carnival in Florence

Carnival in Florence has distant origins and a history that not everyone knows. Although the Viareggio Carnival is much more famous in Tuscany and throughout Italy, this colourful festival is also celebrated with great enthusiasm in Florence, with its tradition dating back to the Middle Ages. In fact during this period, social classes mixed and people were allowed to celebrate in a loud and cheerful way before the period of abstinence and penance of Lent, on the floats called trionfi (made of wood and jute).

During the Renaissance, Florence transformed Carnival into a lavish event with parties, masquerades, processions and fireworks displays. The nobility and the upper class actively participated in these celebrations. Iconic is the contribution of Lorenzo de' Medici, who around 1490 wrote the famous carnival song The Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne: whoever wants to be happy, let him be: there is no certainty for tomorrow.

In the eighteenth century, the float rides, the balls in the theatres (starting with the La Pergola theatre) and the sumptuous masquerade gatherings in Piazza Santa Croce were maintained during the period in which the Lorraine family reigned over Tuscany.

Stenterello: the Florentine Mask

Precisely at the end of the eighteenth century, at the Teatro del Cocomero, the character of Stenterello was born thanks to the Florentine actor Luigi del Buono. This mask later became the mask of the Florentine carnival tradition! The most distinctive feature is the open smile, which reflects the cheerful and playful nature of this character. Often depicted with a conical and pointed hat, he is skinny due to the hardships he has experienced, and represents the man who manages to save his skin every time he criticizes and argues with the authorities; the perfect Florentine of those times!

Carnival in Florence Today - The Parade in the Historic Center

Today, the Carnival in Florence is a lively and colourful event that attracts residents and tourists. The celebrations occur for several days, during which the city is filled with music, dance and elaborate costumes.

On January 28, 2024, the Carnival Parade takes place in Florence, and the whole city will be celebrating! Musical shows, jugglers, allegorical masks, children's face painting, etc. The parade will start in Piazza Santa Maria Novella at 3pm and end in Piazza della Signoria at 7pm. Dress up and join the city of Florence for the festival of pranks and masks!