This can be the translation from the latin sentence: Semel in anno licet insanire.
The sentence comes from the latin writer Seneca who wrote: “Tolerabile est semel anno insanire” and was quoted by Sant’Agostino in his “De Civitate Dei” VI, 10. Became very famous in Europe during the Middle Ages, it was used to justify small, ephemeral and harmless ‘insanities’ like the Carnival masquerades and revelries.
Carnival is a liberating, collective ritual: one is allowed not to respect social and religious conventions and to behave as a different person, drinking and eating a lot, going to parties, etc..The ritual permitted the communities to face social duties as the long 40 days called Lent that precede Easter in which meat, elaborate foods and glee were banned.
Nowadays, Carnival is no more linked to religious tradition: it offers the opportunity to have fun, to get into fancy dresses, to paint your face and to play some jokes and a lot of cities in Italy, small and big, celebrate Carnival with parties and parades. Probably the most famous are Venezia (you can see some pictures on Once in a Lifetime Travel Blog) and Viareggio.
Viareggio will celebrate Carnival with gorgeous parades in February and March: 3th – 10th – 12th – 17th February (24th Feb has been cancelled due to election day in Italy) and 3rd March. You can find information on the Carnival website and I also suggest you to visit the Carnival Museum where you can see how the big floats are built, how the papier mâché is made and walk along the history of the Viareggio Carnival that involve all the citizens and engage a lot of visitors!