The Oldest Carnival in Italy
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Italian Carnival | Carnival in Italy | Carnival in Venice | Carnival in Acireale | Carnival in Ivrea The Oldest Carnival in Italy

The Oldest Carnival in Italy

Many cities in Italy contend for the primacy of the oldest carnival

That of Foiano in Valdichiana, a charming Tuscan village of Etruscan and Roman origin and made famous by Vasari in his work entitled The Battle of Scannagallo, dates back to 1539. Every year the four districts in which the town is divided, compete to win the Palio for the best carnival chariot. The Azzurri, Bombolo, Nottambuli and Rustici districts challenge each other to earn the coveted recognition and pay homage to King Giocondo, the soul of the party and protector of the various neighborhoods.

At 18 kilometers from the splendid sea of Puglia, lying on three hills, stands Putignano, an elegant agricultural and historical center. The carnival of Putignano has reached its 626th edition this year and rightly the longest in Europe.
The Feast of the  “Propaggini" marks the beginning of carnival events every 26 December. For the occasion, six bands of dialect poets battle it out by making satire in verse in the central Piazza del Plebiscito. The Propaggini recall the translation of the relics of Santo Stefano Protomartire from Monopoli to the church of Santa Maria la Greca in Putignano to save them from the Saracen raids of 1394.
From 17 January, feast of Sant’Antonio Abate, Carnival Thursdays take place, another occasion for irreverent satire.
During the carnival Sundays there are the parades of the splendid allegorical floats, the work of the papier-mâché masters.
Representative mask of the Carnival of Putignano is Farinella, half Arlecchino and half Jolly of the playing cards. Farinella takes its name from the dish based on very fine flour made from chickpeas and barley, first roasted and then reduced to dust which is traditionally eaten on Shrove Tuesday.

The splendid Acireale boasts the oldest carnival in Sicily. Here the papier-mâché is replaced by thousands of flowers that make up the so-called flower wagons. The floats offer a suggestive show even at night, through thousands of light bulbs and lights, spectacular movements and scenography in constant evolution during the performances.

Carnival transforms violent historical episodes into a cheerful allegory. This is the case of the Battle of the Oranges of Ivrea which represents the revolt of the citizens against the tyrant of the Piedmontese city, probably Ranieri di Biandrate, killed by the Mugnaia on which he intended to exercise the ius primae noctis. Two teams of Aranceri, one on foot (the people), the other on wagons (the army) challenge each other in a fierce and cheerful confrontation while the procession of the Mugnaia parades along the streets, throwing sweets and gifts to the population.

Among the most beautiful and well-known carnivals in the world, that of Venice is certainly among the oldest, since the word Carnival is found in a document of the Doge Vitale Felier of 1094 and already in 1296 it was promoted to public holidays.


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