Celebrating Carnival in Sorrento, Italy

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When we visited Sorrento, Italy, it just happened to be Carnival! Sorrento is a beautiful coastal town on the Bay of Naples nestled close to Amalfi, Pompeii, and Naples. During one of our afternoon walks, we came upon a Carnival celebration with music, confetti, and dancing!

Carnival in Sorrento

It’s always wonderful to stumble upon unexpected cultural events and festivities, especially holidays! Experiencing a holiday in another country really shows you what day to day life it like at that destination. It’s also a reminder that you are somewhere different and they have their own traditions too! So always be respectful!

Sorrento Coast

Origins of Carnival

Carnival is typically showered in flowers, floats, elaborate masks, and days of celebration. The exact origins of why Carnival is celebrated are still being speculated by historians and anthropologists. For Italy, Carnival was likely born from Saturnalian festival in ancient Rome. Some theories include that is was a holiday to indulge before the harsh winter season where food is rationed, while others speculate Carnival was a celebration for the rebirth of nature during spring.

The most common tradition associated with Carnival is the indulgence before the period of fasting and abstinence from celebration during Lent. Although the holiday likely has Pagan roots, it is typically celebrated by Christians.

Carnival in Sorrento

Carnival celebrations vary from country to country. In France, Carnival is limited to celebration on Shrove Tuesday. In Einsiedeln, Switzerland a more unique parade occurs where demon masks are worn to drive out evil spirits.

The most famous Carnival celebrations are elsewhere in Italy, such as in Viareggio and Venice. But the most famous in the world is in Rio de Janeiro! In Sorrento, the celebration is more low key than in Venice, but it was still a great experience!

Carnival in Sorrento

Do you celebrate Carnival where you’re from?