Centuries on, Rome to revive Carnival

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The city of Rome plans gala Carnival celebrations next month, reviving a tradition last observed in the Italian capital in the eighth century, an organiser said Tuesday.

Three dozen events from February 6 to 16 will include fireworks, equestrian shows and a parade featuring floats and "butteri" - Italy's original cowboys long predating the American version - on horseback, Fabiana Magri told AFP.

The city carried out a test run for a few days last year that attracted 200,000 people, Magri told AFP.

This year the event, which will cost one million euros (1.4 million dollars) partly financed by sponsors, will span the same period as the world-famous Carnival in Venice, she said.

To dispel any question of rivalry between the two cities, the events will be "twinned", with Venetian artists taking part in Rome festivities and Venice's Fenice opera house to perform the ouverture of Rome's opera season.

Rome's Carnival will also include performances by street artists, exhibits, events for children and musical costume parties at the Galleria Sordi shopping mall in the city centre.

A Valentine's Day highlight will be a parade with performers from several Latin American countries in Piazza Venezia on February 14.

The vast Piazza del Popolo will also host a "cultural village" and equestrian shows as well as a concert and fireworks for the grand finale on February 16, Magri said.

Carnival, also known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, is a traditional period of revelry leading up to the Christian fasting season of Lent.