“A CARNEVALE OGNI SCHERZO VALE!” “During carnival any joke is allowed!”
Carnevale in Tuscany. February, the month that is dull, dark, cold, snowy is actually full of colourful surprises. Being the stage of a very old celebration of the catholic world: the Carnival.
To be truthful the origins of this celebration are dated much further than the beginning of the catholic cult. As some similarities can be found in ancient Greece and B.C. Rome. During this time of the year people could subvert the social order pretending to be someone else and enjoy life to a lascivious extent. The poor could act as the rich, men could be seen dressed as women, the rich could change their identity. Everyone could wear a mask and play the new part. This was only for a short amount of time and at the end everyone would return to their status and role.
With the christian and catholic religion, this started to be called carnival from “carnem-levare”, latin for “avoiding meat”. In reference to the last big banquet held before the commencement of Lent, when the practicing Christians fast, pray and do penance in preparation for Easter. Although not thought highly of by the church, the carnival has survived until today with few changes.
Today the masks are different, few of them are still traditional, while the majority comes from films, TV and comics. In Italy the oldest carnival is in Venice, dated back to 1094, and still taking place with 1700th costumes and masks to hide everyones identity.
Another famous one takes place in a town very close to Cortona in Foiano della Chiana. Here the locals work all year to build mobile allegoric floats. Made from scrap paper and glue, these represent famous Italian and international politicians and celebrities, teasing them about facts and scandals. Every Sunday they parade along the streets, surrounded by the crowd in costumes, dancing with very loud music. All trying to win the prize as best float for the current year.
Carnevale is now more for children. They dress pretending to be spider man or a ninja turtle, while fewer adults take the chance to celebrate.
The big, last banquet has been replaced by a huge variety of regional sweets, sometimes similar but with hundreds of different names. Here in Val di Chiana we are preparing to knead and fry “i crogetti”, delicious, thick Mardi Gras fritters filled with custard or chocolate.
In 2019 Carnival begins on 16th February and ends on 5th March, Mardi Gras, before Ash Wednesday. Surrounded by a multitude of colours, laughing and music. The weather can be quite cold but some wine and fritters will help us enjoy and endure the weather! at Carnevale in Tuscany!