Heroic bello Ciocia, Carnival Schignano, Lombardy, Italy Carnevale.
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
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.
One of the great things about Italian Carnevale is the tremendous variety of celebrations. These annual manifestations are not carbon copies of one another. The Lombardy region of northern Italy is an excellent example. Letís start at the village of Schignano, population less than one thousand, situated about 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Milan above Lake Como on the Swiss border. The big days are Mardi Gras and the preceding Saturday. Carnevale revolves around two sets of central characters, the 'Belli' and the 'Brutti', Beauty and the Beast or more precisely, the Beauties and the Beasts. The Beauties are refined, jewel-bedecked women with big flowery hats wearing a wooden mask. The Beasts get ready for Carnevale by going into animal sheds and dressing in sheepskins and ox horns. They carry a sack and vibrantly ring cowbells before dropping to the ground as if they were dead.
This is only the beginning. It seems that the Belli are attached by ropes to their husbands who, as in olden times, tell them to go home and look after the kids. A beauty named Ciocia rebels and tells her husband where to go. Then comes the costume ball in which the Belli and Brutti reunite. But all is not well, sadly a puppet, representing the carnival starts to die. After fruitless attempts to revive him, he is thrown on the fire. He gets up and runs away. The bad guys catch the puppet and throw him back on the funeral pyre. And this time he burns. Until next year.
Butto, Carnival Schignano, Lombardy, Italy Carnevale.
Pescarolo is a small town of about fifteen hundred located some fifty-five miles (ninety kilometers) southeast of Milan. They too do Carnevale differently from most others. Like Schignano, fire plays a big part in their celebrations. The townsfolk chop down a massive oak tree which is festooned with umbrellas and then set up in the main square. Then comes the stack of hay and straw surrounding the trunk. The pile is set on fire and, according to tradition, Pescarolo the tree is untouched by the flames and is returned to its owner.
Milan, the capital of Lombardy, also has an unusual Carnevale. Catholics here tend to follow the Ambrosian rite which means that instead of ending on Mardi Gras, their celebrations continue until the following Saturday. So nothing is stopping you from enjoying the Schignano and Pescarolo festivities and then heading to the fashion capital of Europe (the other one besides Paris) and checking out Milanís Carnevale. And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine local wines.
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 www.travelitalytravel.com devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website www.theworldwidewine.com 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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Carnevale, carnival, carnivale season, Lombardy.