Picture of pre-carnival Carnivale happens across Italy in a variety of forms. On this trip we went to Putignano for one of their three Carnivale parades. Putignano is in Puglia about 40 km south of Bari. It's a moderate-sized hill town and there's a ring road around the historic center. The parade basically enters the ring road and loops around the city. This is the street about a half-hour before the parade arrived.
Picture of bunga There's an entire parade involved here with bands and kids dressed up in strange costumes and clowns and so forth. Really though the highlight is the enormous paper mache floats. The general theme is satire. The more the better and nothing is sacred. We have relatively limited knowledge of Italian politics but this year the parade focused on Prime Minister Berlusconi and his assorted affairs with much younger women. This involves various references to that.
Picture of bunga_detail This in fact is Berlusconi (and a bra). Some of these floats involve more imagination than others.
Picture of snow_white What does Snow White have to do with anything? Who knows. But this picture shows the scale of these floats. They just barely fit down the streets. Also, while it may not be obvious in still pictures they are heavily articulated. The witch turns from side to side, everything that has eyes has moving eyes and Snow White is using a broom. Also there is music blaring (of course). It's really quite impressive.
Picture of eden This is some representation of the Garden of Eden. I could try to explain it based on the short blurb in the official parade guide but you'd do just as well to make something up yourself. You can't drive into the city during the day of the parade. There are parking areas on all sides of the city and a series of buses to take you up to town. However, this is Italy so don't really expect the buses to be very regular- or useful. We walked in.
Picture of eden_detail Anywhere the main street widens a bit there are tents set up to sell food, souvenirs and most importantly - confetti. There are bags and bags of the stuff everywhere and people throw it at the floats, the floats throw it at people and people throw it at other people. An hour into the parade you can barely see the sidewalks anymore.
Picture of satyr Here we have Berlusconi again with a Rotating Wheel of Succubi. That's in capital letters because it's such a great phrase. Rotating Wheel of Succubi. They do actually rotate around the central Pan-Berlusconi figure.
Picture of south_italy This float represents another common theme in southern Italy - notably the pervasive opinion that the central government spends much more time and money on the northern half of the country. The swinging flailing enormous dragon on this float was awesome.
Picture of south_italy_details Each of the floats also has some live people on it- you can see them here in the middle. They mostly sing and dance to whatever music goes with the float. They also do a fine job of providing scale for just how big these things are.
Picture of spaceman The basic theme here is that we've destroyed our planet through global warming and now we have to go find some more. Again you don't really need a theme to appreciate the float (or those wigs). In Italy, people don't seem to actually stay on the sidewalks for a parade. So after any float or band or other item passed by the street would fill up with people again. Then the police would usher everyone back onto the sidewalks before the next thing came along. Seems kind of odd but it does allow for nicely centered pictures.
Picture of bp One of our favorite, this is a BP theme. It's hard to see but there's a cracked pipeline in the bottom right gushing oil into the (not exactly biologically accurate) Gulf of Mexico.
Picture of bp_details If you're planning to visit this parade and you don't speak much Italian, you should probably know that we did not hear any other languages spoken on the streets in Putignano. It seems to be almost exclusively Italians visiting for the parade. Don't worry though, the music and the loud speakers are so loud you can't talk to anyone else anyway. Also, if you're planning to visit this parade we would highly recommend that you get a porchetta sandwich from one of the street vendors. Yum.

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