World War II had left much poverty and destruction, but it had not erased the natural beauty and the rich culture of the land. People were thankful and happy to be alive, and were eager to rebuild a new and better life.
Massarosa, a small agricultural town in Tuscany, was the center of my world. It boasted an active theater, talented painters, authors, and a famous songwriter.
I remember many celebrations. We had national holidays, with brass band concerts in the main piazza; wonderful winter holy days that lasted two weeks. There were the local feasts honoring the patron Saints with long processions. One of my favorite times was the crazy, month-long Carnevale (Mardi Gras), when young and old alike wore colorful home-made costumes, put on masks, and danced in barns, halls, or streets, during chilly February/March nights.
In Viareggio, a sea resort eight kilometers away, every Sunday during Carnevale, there were huge parades along the promenade, with mechanized floats, carrying live musicians, dancers, and huge papier mache caricatures representing famous personalities from the world of sports, cinema, heads of states, etc. People came from many parts of Italy to watch and take part in the festivities. (It was not quite as wild as the one in Venice, New Orleans, and Rio, but just as famous in Europe.)
When I was eight or nine years old, I finally convinced my mother to let me go to Viareggio, to see the Carnevale with my best friend Mariana and her family. I was so excited. I thoroughly loved the parade, the music, and the confetti, until in the midst of all the confusion and the huge crowd, I was temporarily separated from my company. I do not think I have ever been more frightened in my entire life.
Graziella Pacini Buonanno