Carnival Ascoli Piceno, The Marches, 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.
The Marches main Carnevale is held in Ascoli Piceno, a valley town of about 55 thousand surrounded by mountains on three sides. It is located about 110 miles (175 kilometers) southeast of Perugia, the capital of the neighboring region of Umbria. According to local legend Ascoli Piceno was founded when a woodpecker led a band of nomadic shepherds to the sliver of land in between two rivers on which the town now stands. So you may want to look for woodpecker masks at Carnevale. Most of the action takes place in the Piazza del Populo (Square of the People) that is richly decorated for the festivities.
This Carnevale has quite a set of characters. The procession is opened by a town crier, the Grand Georges. You will find the Grosse Biesse (the Fat Beast), which is about 20 yards or meters long. This beast weighs more than 13 tons and sports a long pointed tail, a crocodile’s head, scales, a long neck, and large teeth. Grosse Biesse is dragon-like creature with a crested back and spits, not fire but confetti. It is accompanied by about fifty “biessons” (beasties). Tradition has it that trolls once lived in nearby caves and when frightened by the Fat Beast they invaded the town. Luckily enough Nos Petite (Our Little One) was able to make peace among the trolls, the Fat Beast, and the local populace. We could use his negotiating skills today. Then there is the puppet Gugusse, a cheery little fellow who is constantly placed on a tarpaulin and thrown in the air. When he isn’t around, people from the crowd, mostly women, get to replace him. I am not sure if they are volunteers or not.
Fano Carnival, The Marches, Italy Carnevale.
Other Carnevale participants include The Haute Cour marchoise, the Macrâles de la Famenne, the Diables de la Famenne, the Baloûches di Morloye, the Zibistoukets and Grutchouyoux, the gilles Les Bons Vivants, the Porte Basse, the Harmonie Communale, and the Amis de Théo. Did you notice that all the names are in French? You can get an idea of this Carnevale’s size by considering the statistics for the final Sunday: 1.5 tons of confetti, 1,300 lbs of candy, 4000 flowers and 16,000 oranges are distributed or thrown to the crowd.
The Marches hosts additional Carnevales. Fano is a seaside resort of over 60 thousand people. The highlight of its Carnevale is the parade in which costumed revelers throw candies and chocolate. The town of Offida, population about five thousand, is situated about 8 miles (12 kilometers) northeast Ascoli Piceno. The central attraction of Offida’s Carnevale is the Corsa del Bove Finto (Running of the Fake Bull) in which after spending the day drinking local wine, traditionally dressed participants run after someone in a bull costume. 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, The Marches.