We know that Cento's Carnival dates back at least to the 1600s thanks to some frescoes by the town's famous painter Gian Francesco Barbieri, known as Guercino. For centuries, the party remained a characteristic local celebration. Then, at the end of the 1980s, when twinned with the carnival in Rio de Janeiro, it became an internationally important date.
A grand celebration, it's one of 15 historical Carnivals in Emilia-Romagna, in which visitors can admire the stars of show business, the competition between the groups that, all year round, work to produce the celebrated allegorical, papier-mâché figures atop the carnival floats that are up to 15 metres high.
The floats are accompanied by more than 200 figurants in colourful costumes parading through the town's seventeenth-century streets and porticoes, drawing the public into the cheerful, festive mood.