CARNIVAL IN CENTRAL ITALY: THE CARNIVALS OF OFFIDA, CENTO AND VIAREGGIO
The Carnivals of Offida, Cento and Viareggio, celebrations in central Italy. foodiestrip's journey through the Italian Carnivals continues
Cento (January 28 – February 25, 2018)
Cento Carnival of Europe is twinned with the Rio de Janeiro Carnival. Even the painter Guercino in the ‘600 painted it, the modern Carnival is officially born in 1947 and it did not take place only once in 2014 because of the earthquake’s damages to the buildings where the floats are made. The floats are huge and they parade in the city’s streets followed by masks. The floats’ themes are always different, but usually the satire is the protagonist . The most important mask is Tasi, created in the early 1900s and takes inspiration from a person who once really existed. They say that Tasi used to walk around the city with a fox and between his wife and a glass of wine he would always choose the latter. The bonfire of its mask closes the Carnival.
Typical dish: Cento is called “Little Bologna”, both for its city center structure and for the culinary tradition that is really similar. The most typical dish is the pisaren, small bread balls made with flour, water and garnished with ragù.
Viareggio (January 27 – February 17, 2018)
The Carnival of Viareggio was born in the early 800s, but the first parades began in 1873. The floats, on the contrary, started to be used at the beginning of the 1900, before they were made of plaster and filler and then papier-mâché. The art of papier-mâché modeling has been used by the inhabitants of Viareggio also in cinema and arts field. Fellini, for example, asked Arnaldo and Renato Galli, and Silvano Avanzini to create the set of his movie Casanova and the superb Anita Ekberg of Boccaccio ’70. The parades of the huge allegorical floats are usually followed by thousands of people, and the record was reached in 2011, when the third day of the Carnival was followed by 325,000 people. One of the most important and old soccer tournament is associated with the Carnival, the Viareggio Tournament. In 1978 one soccer team form Beijing took part at the tournament and it was the first sportive contact of the communist China with Occidental Europe.
Typical dish: Cenci, fried dough. But in Viareggio, also when it’s Carnival (that is, you are allowed to eat meat) eating fish it’s must. So, the Cacciucco, a dish from the ‘500 and which name comes from the Turkish word Kuciuck, and made with that fish that wasn’t usually sold. And the the pasta alla trabaccolara, which was imported in Viareggio by San Benedetto del Tronto’s fisherman who moved in Tuscany at the beginning of the 1900.
Offida (January 17 – February 13, 2018)
The Offida Historical Carnival, small town near Ascoli Piceno on the hills of the Marche region, has its origin back in the 1500 and starts on Saint Anthony’s day, the 17th of January. Soon after the Carnival opening, two Sundays of celebration follows until the Shrove Thursday when the Mayor of Offida chooses one congrega (masked group) to give the keys of the town to. The day after, Friday, the tradition of the Bove Finto (fake ox) takes place. This tradition traces back to 1500, when the Town Hall used to give to poor people an ox that was chased along the streets of the town by the inhabitants (the day chosen, Friday, it did not come along. In fact it was forbidden to eat meat, so this act represents a transgression). Today, the ox is fake, but it is still chased through the streets of the town by young people (and not only) who wear the typical red and white costume so called “lu guazzarò”. The town lives a crazy day, and the houses are open to everybody even to unknown people. Red wine is the protagonist and not only on that day. After the crazy Friday, in fact, there are three days of celebrations in the Serpente Aureo theater and everything ends on Tuesday with the V’Lurd. The V’Lurd are big bundles of reeds and straw and they are burnt to cancel all transgressions done during the Carnival period.
Typical dish: Offida’s funghetti (sweet mushrooms). There are only two bakeries nowadays in Offida preparing this pastry because the preparation is really long even if the ingredients are only three: flour, sugar and anise seed. Castagnole, ravioli and frappe cannot miss, typical fried pastries.
This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)