Sant'Eraclio Calabria Carnevale Season - 2014

Calabria Carnevale Season - 2014

Let's go to Carnevale in Calabria this season...

Commedia dell'Arte New York City

Commedia dell'Arte New York City

Lorenzo Bassotto and Roberto Macchi.

It doesn't matter whether you call it Carnival, Carnevale, or Mardi Gras. There's nothing like a Carnival celebration to help banish those winter blues. Italy is one of the best places to view and participate in a Carnevale vacation. Everywhere you will find Carnevale masks, costumes, allegorical floats, special food and wine. And interestingly enough, each Italian region does Carnevale differently. What are you waiting for?

This fabulous celebration occurs on the Tuesday 40 days before Easter so the date varies. Carnevale 2014 is on March 4, Carnevale 2015 is on February 17, but Carnevale season starts earlier. Plan your Italian holidays now. Keep reading.

Calabria is the foot of the Italian boot. This region is in the heart of the Mezzogiorno, the south of Italy. Who would expect to find an Albanian Carnival here? Who would expect to find an African Carnevale here? Keep reading to learn about some of the most distinctive Carnevales in all Europe.

San Demetrio Corone is a village of under four thousand people in Calabria facing the Apennine Mountains and the Ionian Sea. It was founded more than five hundred years ago by Albanians who were fleeing an Ottoman invasion. Despite the centuries the townsfolk have managed to keep their Albanian language and customs while becoming Italians. On the first Saturday of Carnival they celebrate the “Feste dei Morti” in which the poor and children go from house by house collecting alms. Then they march to the local cemetery where food and drink is served surrounded by the gravestones. The food known as “colivi” is made from boiled wheat and was eaten at Paleo-Christian funerals. In the nearby village of Saracena, population about four thousand, named for the Arabs who once ruled this part of the world, the Festa di San Leone (Feast of St. Leon) starts with candlelight procession from the church of that name accompanied by music made with traditional musical instruments. Then comes the “fucarazzi'” (bonfire) at dusk that stays lit all night as the inhabitants and guests enjoy the ritual food and drink.

Castrovillari Calabria in carnival imagination

Carnival Castrovillari, Calabria, Italy Carnevale.

Another Albanian Carnevale in Calabria is held in the village of Lungro many of whose three thousand some inhabitants speak a dialect of Albanian. The villagers celebrate Carnevale by parading in traditional Albanian costumes. In northern Calabria, the city of Montalto Uffugo (population about seventeen thousand) holds an interesting parade of men wearing women's dresses. They hand out sweets and tastes of Pollino wine. Following the parade, the kings and queens arrive for a night of dancing wearing costumes that include giant heads. Actually cross dressing is a popular Calabrian Carnevale theme for both men and women as are the ancient Commedia dell'Arte farces in which Carnival is dying, surrounded by busy but hopelessly ineffectual doctors. The funeral is grotesque and ends with a huge bonfire.

The town of Castrovillari, population well over twenty thousand on the northern border of Calabria, holds its Carnival of Pollino in which the women dressed in intricate traditional costumes and both the men and women celebrate the Pollino wine of the region, Lacrima di Castrovillari. But there’s more. This Carnevale now includes a children’s carnival and an International Folklore Festival with Jazz concerts and multiple events devoted to African, Afro-American, and Afro-Brazilian culture. The times they are a’changing. And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine local wines.

About the Author

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his website devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website with weekly reviews of $10 wine and columns devoted to various aspects of wine including wine and food, humor, trivia, organic and kosher wine and lots more.

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