You may already be familiar with Columbine and Harlequin, or maybe Pulcinella? These and other famous characters, clowns, and dozens of masked and costumed figures float across the main public squares of Rome during Carnevale Romano. Rome has been famous for its carnivals since the Middle Ages when bullfights and horse tournaments took place in Piazza Navona. The festivities were especially large during the Renaissance times. An eight-day carnival spread all over the city ending on Mardi Gras or Martedi Grasso right before Lent. Modern Carnevale usually lasts for a duration of ten days. The main celebration dates change yearly, depending on when Easter falls, though they usually fall between February 3rd and March 9th.
The major highlight of modern festivities are parades with colorful floats, magicians, jugglers, dancers, musicians. The Via del Corso, The Piazza di Spagna, Piazza Navona, and Piazza della Repubblica all have events during the carnival week, usually theater, circus and entertainment for children which are very colorful and noisy! The area around the Castel Sant’Angelo is especially festive with music and an artificial ice rink open till late at night.
Riderless horse races have been a part of Carnevale di Roma since ancient times. Piazza del Popolo is the epicenter of this spectacle that is especially loved by children. Though the race has evolved into just a horse-back costumed parade, it is still a great show. Italian military’s equestrian unit is especially popular. Horses move down the Via del Corso and the parade ends in the Piazza Venezia. Young children can enjoy free horse rides in the Piazza and observe horse acrobatics and dances.
The main parade usually kicks off on Saturday in the Piazza del Popolo and follows through in the Piazza di Spagna and Piazza Navona.