Leonardo Da Vinci “Confetti Machine” Fires Up Carnival

Leonardo\'s Confetti MachineRenaissance genius Leonardo Da Vinci, who worked in Milan for 17 years, inspired 2008 Carnival festivities here.

The best part? A huge confetti-making machine in Via Mercante. It takes old newspapers and turns them into free packs of coriandoli (“confetti” in Italian means almond candies used as wedding, birth or graduation favors) for the kids.

Inspired by his machines (like the wooden models in the Tech & Science museum here), it theatrically shreds newspapers then whooshes them up a clear chute. They are packaged and sent down through another chute outside, where a young lad in costume hands them out.

Italy’s most stylish city celebrates Carnival fashionably late. Milan follows its own calendar, according to the Ambrosian Rite (named after patron St. Ambrose), so the party ends here on Saturday (“sabato grasso,” fat Saturday) and Lent starts on Sunday.

Other Leonardo-related activities include kite making in the Via Palestro Gardens, makeup and hair in the Galleria Emanuele.

Saturday’s parade (floats, bands, etc) starts at 3 p.m. (from Via Palestro) and the festivities carry on after it winds up in Piazza Duomo ending with an acrobat/dance/fireworks extravaganza that starts at 10:30 p.m..

Keep an eye out for silly-string slinging teens and costumed tots; clubs are the way to go for adults who want to dress up.

More Carnival celebrations around Italy here and, in Italian,here .
Inside view of the paper shredderWaiting for the confetti to dropConfetti Machine: the chute upper left sends down packsRenaissance guys get all the girls