If you’re seeing weird costumes, sidewalks covered with ticker tapes or colourful masks around the city don’t worry, it’s totally normal. No, we don’t celebrate Halloween in February (who would do that?) but for us it’s actually one of the funniest and most beloved festivals: Carnival. Never heard of it? Of course not.
As a matter of fact, it’s a typical Italian and Christian festivity that marks the beginning of the Lent (40 days before Easter over which no meat can be consumed). Mainly celebrated in Venice, famous for its amazing masks and decorations, its name derives from the Latin words “carnem levare” (literally, “without meat”) denoting the annual banquet held on the very last day of the commemoration: the so called “Martedì Grasso” (Fat Tuesday). But what does it all mean to us Italians?
The Carnival Traditions
First of all, it means food, particulary sweets. As it is, during this time of the year, the bakeries and coffee shops of the country get packed with our characteristic pastries: the exquisite “frappe” and “castagnole”. Also known as “chiacchiere” (chit chats) the first ones consist of long, sweet, crunchy fritters covered with powdered sugar. Their origins go way back to the Great Roman Empire when Roman citizens would prepare and have these delights right around February. The second ones, are basically small balls of fried dough also covered with powdered (or regular) sugar. These days you can find them plain or stuffed with chocolate or vanilla cream as well. Its ancient recipe belonged to the culinary tradition of the regions Marche, Liguria, Umbria, Veneto, Lazio and Emilia Romagna (practically the middle and some of the northern areas of Italy). Make sure to taste these sublime bakeries while vacationing in Rome, you definetely don’t wanna miss them!
(CLICK ON THE PICTURES FOR THE RECIPES OF THIS DELICIOUS DISHES)
As for the weird outfits I mentioned before, here’s the thing: according to the old tradition all the people willing to celebrate this super cool festival is to dress up by wearing original costumes and masks. The most ancient and typical are the ones called “Arlecchino”, “Pulcinella”, “ Colombina” , “Rugantino” coming from several Italian regions. Who are they? Let’s find out!
Arlecchino: the legend says he was born in Bergamo (Lombardia) from a very poor family. His mask apparently first appeared thanks to his mother who sewed him a head-to-toe suit with the brightest and most colourful patches she could find. He was also notorious for his agility, liveliness and comedy.
Pulcinella: this hunchback personage famous for his black mask and white robe, can be considered the most ancient of them all. Right from the chaotic an southern Naples, he was usually related to roles like a servant or master. However, this clumsy guy was not very kind or gentle, especially with words.
Colombina: it’s said that she was born in Venice and was Arlecchino’s wife. With her braided golden hair, pink , girly dress and black slippers she was very pretty and young. Apparently, she was first a slave then a servant to her mistress to whom she was very devoted in order to discover her most mysterious and passionate love affairs.
Rugantino: From our very own Eternal city, he sure was a tough guy. Underneath his old, poor and shabby robes and pants he was considered a big, fat softy despite his frequent arrogance, insolence and villainy.
Pretty funny people, uh? Well, now you know who you wanna be for Carnival. But if you want, you can dress up as whoever you wish: from superheroes, to princes or princesses, monsters or whatever, you choose. Remember to make it memorable though!
How To celebrate?
How to celebrate? Well, other than walking around the city with bizarre costumes there are tons of parties you guys can go to.
From February 8th all the way to the 13th here are some of the top events:
- THE MASQUERADE BALL: here’s your chance to dress up! As a matter of fact, thanks to this huge party, you’ll have the opportuniy to hit the dancefloor, go on awesome rides and assist to amazing perfomances. It will be held on February 10th in Largo Dino Frisullo from 10:00 PM for just 15 euros. What are you waiting for? Go have some fun!
- CARTOON PARTY 4.0: If you guys love cartoons then you absolutely have to check this one out. The Cluster Club in Via Libetta 9 will give you a cheap night (only 15 euros) full of fun and thrill. On February 13th from 9:00 PM shake it up with fresh drinks, a tasty welcoming happy hour followed by a special dinner. Don’t miss it!
- JUNGLA EST: with this cold a nice , summer breeze is always appreciated. Floral t-shirts, sunglasses and flip flops will be your costumes for this amazing, warm night at the Sparwasser on February 10th from 11:00 PM. Tropical music, dances and drinks with tiny umbrellas will keep you busy from dusk till dawn. Ready for your summer evening?
What a blast, right? It’s what Carnevale is all about: fun, food and lots of laughters. Now, all there’s left to do for you guys is to go out there and have fun. Get crazy! No one will judge you. Happy Carnevale y’all!
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