In Italy, there is an event called Martedi Grasso which basically means “Fat Tuesday”. This is kind of like a last chance for you to enjoy yourself before the start of 40 days of lent.
During the days leading towards Martedi Grasso, you’d see a lot of children in costumes, throwing confetti around. There would also be a carnival. Probably the most famous and biggest one in Italy would be the Carnevale di Venezia – something that I’d love to see for myself in the future.
Anyway, last weekend, I feel extremely fortunate to have had the chance of experiencing a carnival. While it wasn’t the one in Venice, the one in Viareggio is extremely impressive by itself.
A little back story. A couple of months earlier, I got a message from a production company who was looking for someone who was living in Italy to be a co-host for a documentary show in Singapore. I don’t know anything about hosting and I’ve never hosted before – youtube-ing is a whole different animal altogether but I was so intrigued about the Viareggio Papier Mache Carnival, I said yes! What’s the worst that could happen? In the end, it will be a very interesting experience.
Viareggio is a town in Tuscany. It takes about 4 hours to travel from Rome to Viareggio by train. This time round, we took Frecciarossa – which was interesting, as it has a fold-able table for when you want to do your work, a charger below, and wifi!
But trying to log on to Frecciarossa’s wifi for the first time is quite challenging though as I don’t think that the website was coded to suit smartphones. It took at least 15 minutes for me to try to remain calm enough to type my information in.
After a while, I just gave up and enjoyed the scenery I saw outside of my window.
Around two hours passed by and we stopped at Firenze to do and interchange with a regional train for the rest of the journey.
Something that I think will probably be a little TMI is how Cart explained to me how the toilets in train works. He claims that you should only go when the train is moving as you’d make a pile when the train is still.
Really? It makes sense but I don’t believe him. I’m pretty sure that there is a containment below.
Four hours later, we finally reached the Viareggio train station. It was cloudy and drizzling slightly, but I was so excited just to be there.
We walked to our bed and breakfast called the Villino Lola, which was just a few minutes walk from the station. It’s so beautiful! If you ever travel here in a group, this is a great place to stay – and when the cost is divided by 8 people, it’s not at all expensive.
You enter through the hall into the main house which has a reception room, a bathroom and big kitchen.
Look! There’s a classic vespa!
In the kitchen, you have all the usual cooking needs like olive oil and condiments, table ware, cooking ware …
For some reason, there are a lot of bottled water in the fridge. There were at least 4 in this kitchen alone. We were told that the water in the taps in Viareggio are potable nevertheless.
This place is huge! When you walk upstairs, there are 3 bedrooms and two bathrooms.
I find each bedroom so charmingly country. There is a particular bathroom which was so luxurious. On hindsight, I think I should have taken a short video of the place. Pictures doesn’t do it justice.
When you go back down to the kitchen, you could open the door that to the the garden, leading to guest house.
And here was where Cart and I stayed for the next 3 nights. Our own little tiny house! I loved how self sufficient it is – a place to sleep, a place to cook, a place to shower. I’d be happy live here if there was wifi connection here too. 😛
Above the guest house was a terrace where I imagine people could have a nice open air dinner when the weather is better.
After exploring our bed and breakfast, Cart and I went to have a look see outside. The street where we walked in, there were so many houses which was decorated with masks and banners, in the spirit of the carnival.
We walked and walked and walked and eventually we found ourselves close to the sea. It’s very lively here – there are a lot of shops and food places along the path and there are plentiful of people walking around.
Don’t walk next to the sea during winter when it’s very windy. Personal experience.
When you are in Viareggio, you’ll see this a lot :
This is called the Burlamacco. This red and white clown like figure is the mascot for Viareggio. I think he’s cute.
It was starting to be dinner time, so Cart and I headed back and met the crew at this very lovely sandwich place called Paninoteca Adone.
I love this place. The people here are so friendly and the sandwiches here are the bomb! The list of sandwiches are very comprehensive and can be daunting for the first timer, but you’ll be sure that there is something for everyone. And here are some of the pictures of the sandwiches that I managed to snap.
This is the 4 formaggi sandwich – gorgonzola, mozzarella, groviera, fontina. Check out how cheesy it is!
This is the Rosa – Smoked salmon, butter, lemon
This was my Verde – Artichokes, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, tabasco sauce and lettuce.
It was so delicious that I’m still thinking about it now. I think I’ll try to make it myself. It shouldn’t be too hard, I hope. The only thing is that, it’s a little bit oily, and it trickled down my hands while I was eating it, which made it a little bit awkward.
Anyway, let me introduce you to part of the team! Next to me is Remi, the producer and there is Dzul who is the director and the two ladies are Seri and Mas who are the hosts, who by the way, are very popular in Singapore.
I’m covering myself with a flower because I look really bad in this picture. Yikes! Next time, I’ll remember to turn my head or cover my neck with a sandwich like what Mas is doing here. Ahaha!
When I first met them, I wasn’t sure how to react. What should I do? Should I talk all formal? How? What? Huh? But when we started talking, they were so friendly and so nice and so chatty that I felt so comfortable around them.
One of the things I remember was when they told me about their trip to Jokkmokk, Sweden and how the temperature there was very cold! Minus 25 degrees even. I don’t think that I’d be able to cope in such cold weather. Nevertheless, they enjoyed seeing the reindeer and the scenery there.
After our dinner, we had an early night. Tomorrow will be a big day!