CELEBRATE CARNEVALE: MASQUERADES, PARADES AND SWEETS
And be aware that “a Carnevale ogni scherzo vale”… anything goes!
THE LAST WINTER FESTIVAL
It is the biggest winter feast, a triumph of masquerades, music, parades and elaborate costumes. Carnevale – the Italian Mardi Gras - traditionally takes place 40 days before Easter. Italians celebrate Martedi Grasso - Fat Tuesday - before heading into Ash Wednesday and the restrictions of Lent. If you visit Italy during this crazy Tuesday, beware that “a Carnevale ogni scherzo vale”… anything goes and pranks rule!
A FUN CELEBRATION FOR KIDS AND ADULTS
During Carnevale, children throw “coriandoli,” colorful paper confetti, but some “monelli” (little brats) could also throw raw eggs! So, if you decide to join a parade, be prepared! There are many celebrations all across the country, but Viareggio (Tuscany), Venice (Veneto), Cento (Emilia Romagna), Acireale (Sicily), and Putignano (Puglia) host the most spectacular parades.
NOT ONLY PARADES! CARNEVALE IS ALSO FOOD
The Italian Carnevale is also the feast of great food and traditional sweets, most of them are rigorously fried. The most famous delicacies are Frappe (known also as chiacchiere, cenci or bugie, depending on the region). Made with simple ingredients such as flour, sugar and butter, Frappe are fried traditional sweet crisp pastries sprinkled with powdered sugar. In Naples a traditional dessert is Migliaccio, a semolina and ricotta cake. On the Carnevale table you will also find Castagnole, which are little fried balls of dough. Another delicious pleasure is the Brighella (named from Brighella, a traditional Neapolitan theater character), a fried dough beignet filled with custard and sparkled with sugar. In Tuscany, the traditional indulgence is Schiacciata alla Fiorentina, a vanilla and orange zest sponge cake topped with sugar and the giglio fiorentino , a traditional lily, stamped with cocoa powder.
DO NOT FORGET LASAGNA!
Carnevale is also savory. The best known Mardi Gras tradition is lasagna di Carnevale, a delicious pasta dish filled with meat, sauce and cheese. Like every Italian tradition, there are many regional variations. Some lasagna recipes are made with eggs, some others with meatballs or ground meat and sauce or ham, and others with ricotta cheese or béchamel sauce. Buon appetito!
- Donatella Mulvoni