Sant'Eraclio Sicily Carnevale Season - 2014

Sicily Carnevale Season - 2014

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

Acireale Sicily

Acireale Sicily in carnival season

Carnival Acireale, Sicily, 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 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.

Acireale, a city of about 50 thousand, is about fifty miles (eighty kilometers) north of Siracusa on the eastern coastline facing the Ionian Sea. This coast is called the Riviera dei Cilopi; according to Homer’s Odyssey it was created when the blinded Cyclops Polyphemus flung boulders at the retreating Ulysses, creating spectacular rock pillars known as faraglioni. This great site hosts what is widely regarded as Sicily’s finest Carnevale, one of the few that can compete with Venice’s world-class offering.

Carnivale is thought to originate in the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia, honoring the god Saturn in the hope of a rich harvest. Masked revelers, often drunk, feasted, partied, and paraded with allegorical floats through the town. Similar festivals were held in ancient Greece to honor Dionysus, the god of wine. However, the word Carnevale itself is said to come from Carnem levare, which means take away the meat, referring to the 40 days of Lent in which the faithful would eat no meat.

Allegorical floats have been a major component of Carnevale for hundreds of years. They first appeared in Sicily more than four hundred years ago. But they only came to Acireale around 1880. And this Carnevale has been making up for lost time ever since. As elsewhere, papier maché is a major component of the floats. Satirical masks are also featured. Even if you can’t tell who is being mocked out, you will enjoy them. Of course, in many cases you won’t have any trouble identifying the “victim”. Talking about victims, Carnevale onlookers were once pelted with eggs and other projectiles. Today they are more likely to be hit with confetti or sprayed with aerosols.

Sciacca Sicily in carnival masks

Carnival Sciacca, Sicily, Italy Carnevale.

In 2010 the Acireale Carnevale will start on Saturday, January 30th and run until Tuesday, February 16th, Mardi Gras. There are many events for children such as Bambini in Maschera, a children’s costume competition. At first events are held on the weekends only but starting on Thursday, February 11th there is at least one daytime and one evening event daily. After an awards ceremony Carnevale terminates with fireworks and the burning of King Carnival.

Acireale is not the only city in Sicily to host Carnevale. Other manifestations occur in Palermo, the coastal capital situated on the northern coast whose Carnevale introduced papier maché floats to Sicily in the town of Sciacca on the southwestern coast whose Carnevale is known for its bizarre floats, in Termini Imerese on the northern coast, and in Palazzolo Acreide west of Siracusa. Why not visit several and compare? 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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