Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Happy Carnival!

This time last year, well, "year" being the Catholic year because it wasn't the same calendar date, Dan and I were confused tourists in Rome on our honeymoon.

On our first day of exploring in Rome, which was a Sunday, we kept seeing confetti everywhere. It was seriously everywhere, blanketing all the streets and sidewalks.

It wasn't like we missed a parade or something because we would have noticed that, maybe. There was just confetti that seemed to have rained from the sky and now the cleaning crews were out in droves trying to sweep it up. By the way, Italian cleaning crews apparently only hire former models. The only people we saw sweeping up the confetti were some of the most gorgeous women I'd ever seen in coveralls.

We finally stumbled across the source of it.

The children of Rome were the culprit! For some reason, the children of Rome were dressed up in costume and throwing handfuls of confetti made from old newspapers. We saw a couple more instances of kids doing this, but for the most part, the rest of the day and the next were pretty uneventful, at least on the confetti front.

On our last day in Rome, Tuesday, we were going to all the last minute sites we could. We had already spent the morning hunting Renaissance sculpture and trying to get into the Borghese Gallery without a reservation (if you ever go to Rome, you need to go there, but make a reservation! We were lucky and someone cancelled theirs, but almost didn't get to see it.) After spending most of the afternoon walking around the park that housed the gallery, I realized we were very close to the Piazza del Popolo, which is totally in "Return to Me" (Oh yeah, that's right. Another Minnie Driver reference!)

And wouldn't you guess what we found?

A whole plaza filled with children in costume and oodles of confetti! I love that little kid dressed as a tiger just dumping his bag out. I swear I must have creepily watched him for 20 minutes.

Fortunately, there were signs telling us what this was all about.

CARNIVAL! Italian Mardi Gras! We were in what is probably the largest Catholic city in the world and had wandered into the epicenter. There were booths and plays and reenactors in Renaissance apparel and hoards of children throwing confetti. It was awesome. And can I just say, why don't we do this here? I understand the density of the Catholic population is much lower here than in Italy, but I don't think many people would care about the religious meaning if it meant just dressing up in costume and throwing confetti. I'd be all for that.

So once we were thoroughly tired, we mapped out the best route back to our hotel. Well, weren't we surprised that apparently our route back to our hotel was the parade route.

The tiny street we planned to walk back to our hotel was wall to wall with people. It was a little hard to maneuver, but at least we were going with the flow of traffic. We had planned to go back to the hotel, relax a bit, grab some dinner, and take the subway back to the square after dark when the real craziness started, but that was a pipe dream given how fast our energy was waning.

Today is Mardi Gras. Carnival. And while I'm glad to be having a much calmer Tuesday than that day, just thinking about it makes me want to plan our next adventure.

Where should we be confused next?


  1. Hello hello hello! I was so happy to get your comment, I have missed you/your blog :) I couldn't see it without a permission for a while and in the end I gave up, and now it's back again, hurray! That being said, so fun to hear you know/love Ikea too!

    Here in Barcelona on sunday night the streets were filled with confetti just like on your pictures, and I found out that there had been a big carnaval-celebration of come kind, but I found out when it was already over. Such a shame, it sounds like fun! The kids all over town on Sunday were dressed up though, so cute!
    How fun that you happened to be there when it was on in Rome!

    1. Aww, thanks! You just made my day! (Here's an explanation of why it was down for a bit, http://atleastiwill.blogspot.com/2012/01/explanation.html )

      I forgot that Carnival would be big in all of Europe. We really don't here about it a lot here except for New Orleans. Is it celebrated in Norway?

    2. I was reading up on all the posts I have been missing and just got to the post you refer to. It's a little cryptic for me as I don't really understand what's happened, but from what I do understand it sounds horrible and I get why you dissapeared. (And congrats for getting back on the horse, so to say)

      I am not sure Carnaval is big all over Europe. In Norway there's basically nothing but in Spain it's quite big! I know in the Canary Islands (Gran Canaria and Tenerife) it's huge and people travel there from Spain mainland just to be part of the Carnaval, and it lasts for a couple of weeks!