Il Carnevale di Cento in the province of Ferrara, Emilia Romagna, is one of the most entertaining and spectacular carnival celebrations in Italy.
It has its roots in history, as shown in the seventeenth century frescoes by famous painter Gian Francesco Barbieri, known as Il Guercino. But while for centuries this carnival celebrations were organised mostly for the fun of the locals, in the late 1980s Il Carnevale di Cento was turned into an event of international relevance.
In 1993, the most extravagant Carnival in Europe was officially twinned with the Brazilian Carnival for the style of its allegorical floats, the beautiful costumes and for the amazing fun. Now, every year Cento's floats are taken to the parade in Rio, representing the world's first and only foreign floats to ever take part to the Night of Champions in the legendary Sambadrome.
One of the distinctive features of the Carnival of Cento is the "gettito", the launching of balloons, candies, chocolates, dolls and various gadgets in large quantities from the floats taking part to the parade towards the public, which makes the experience particularly fun.
This year celebrations started on the 20 February and will continue every Sunday until the 13th of March. The six groups preparing the carnival floats, present their exceptionally great papier-mâché work made with particularly strong colours and bold satire.
Last year champion Il Risveglio designed a float dedicated to the financial crisis called "Attenti alle favole” (Beware of fairy tales). The group I Toponi called their float “Rose spezzate” (Broken Roses) and worked around the difficult subject of violence on women, while I Ragazzi del Guercino with their "Gelo Disgelo” (Freezing defrost) focused on eco-related issues.
Il Riscatto celebrates with their “Made in Italy” float the 150th year anniversary of the unification of Italy pointing out that so many national treasures are often neglected and the Mazalora's one,dedicated to "Alice nel Paese delle Meraviglie" (Alice in Wonderland), is the most political one laughing at Italian politics.
Finally, I Ribelli with "Sognar non costa niente” (Dreaming does not cost anything) show that while dreaming is nice and comfy, then when you wake up reality is far more bitter than you ever imagined.
So let us prepare ourselves to be dragged into this wonderful world of dreams and fantasy created by these skilled craftsmen who have given voice to our dreams and our fears in an ironic and funny way.
For those many who will not make it to Cento this year, enjoy the following video of the parade.