Monaco-Ville (Monaco Old Town) and its “Sciaratu“(the name for the carnival king) is a real summer carnival, with processions of floats on the theme of dragons all around the Rock, troupes of musicians, street entertainment, fancy-dress costumes and confetti sellers.
A Grand Open-Air Dance with a DJ, at 10 pm in the Place de la Mairie, will bring the day to a close.
A short history:
In the past, during the carnival period, before Lent, people would dress up in costumes and stroll around the streets of the Rock in disguise. Often, men dressed as women, and vice versa. Groups of young people wearing cotton hats and long shirts would hold a huge bed sheet by the corners and use it to toss a figure made of straw and rags – “u payassu” – into the air among the crowds and catch it, singing all the while.
In the post-war period, the Carnival still took place in winter on the Rock, but the festivities only lasted for three days. Young people – i Mufi – continued to toss apayassu into the air, which was then duly hung and burned in the Place de la Mairie on Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday). The motley collection of assorted missiles was eventually replaced by the less dangerous confetti!
More recently, the Roca-Club, the Committee in charge of organising the Carnival, has added floats and brass bands to make the parade even more entertaining. Thepayassu has always been part of the celebrations, but the Sciaratu has become a carnival king – the king of the carta pistà – paraded around on a wagon. The traditional corso (parade) still takes place, but in summer, rather than Lent, and ends with a grand open-air dance.
Monaco Old Town Festival and its Sciaratu – Saturday 21 July from 6 pm until 10 pm in the narrow streets of the Rock.