Hidden treasures

Who invented 'Burlamacco'?

Did you know that...
Burlamacco

Who invented 'Burlamacco'?

Do you know who Burlamacco is? If you've been to the Carnival of Viareggio you've certainly seen him, otherwise I'll tell you all about him. Burlamacco is the mascot of the Versilia event and, what’s more, has been that since 1931! Seeing him always so smiling and high-spirited you would be justified to think he is not that old, but he is actually 88 years old. Can you picture him in your mind? He wears a red and white checkered outfit and a black cape, a pompom on his belly, a red Feluca hat and his face is painted like a clown.

The father, so to speak, of Burlamacco is Uberto Bonetti: a futurist artist born and bred in Viareggio who devoted himself to painting, graphics and scenography. It was him who in 1930 created the character that has now become the very symbol of the Carnival of Viareggio. He drew inspiration from the masks of the Commedia dell'Arte and, in fact, Burlamacco has many of their characteristics: the Rugantino hat, Dr. Balanzone’s coat, the checkered costume resembling that of Harlequin, the white ruff of Capitan Fracassa, the white Button of French Pierrot and the typical clown makeup. In short, Bonetti made a sort of collage but the end result was so good that the character has been depicted on all the billboards of the Carnival of Viareggio since 1931. As we would say today, he has become the logo of it.

In 1931 his name was not Burlamacco but, to be honest, he had no name at all! His name, complete with a christening party awash with Champagne, came about only in 1938. Where does this funny name come from? There are several hypotheses: it was the name that Bonetti used as a pseudonym for some cartoons he published in a satirical magazine. It seems it was a re-adaptation of Decameron’s Buffalmacco. There is also some connection with the Burlamacca canal of the Port of Viareggio. Do you know that this mask also has a girlfriend? Her name is Ondina and in the first poster she wore the typical castigated swimsuit of those years.

Nice story, don’t you think? Just another reason to go and watch the Carnival of Viareggio! Considering you will not be staying on the beach of Versilia in February, why not take this as the opportunity to visit Tuscany? Our tours in Pisa could be perfect to discover, for example, the magnificent city of the Leaning Tower.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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