I Love Italian Travel - Abruzzi Carnevale Season
Francavilla al Mare is a city of about 25 thousand people located near Pescara, Abruzzi on the Adriatic coast. Its carnival is considered so far above and beyond the regional competition that is simply known as the "Carnevale d'Abruzzo" (the Abruzzi Carnival). This seems to be the only such case in all Italy except for Piedmont. Interestingly enough the Carnevale d'Abruzzo dates in its present form back to only 1956 when it greeted a group of Martians in a flying saucer. But of course Francavilla al Mare does not host the only Carnevale site in Abruzzi and you should take a look at several of them.
Abruzzi is home to the most tragic Carnevale in all Italy. Abruzzi's capital city of Aquila, home to about 70 thousand, is located on a hillside in the middle of a narrow valley. It is partially situated on an ancient lakebed; this factor intensifies seismic activity. On February 2, 1703, Carnival day, a major earthquake struck destroying the city and killing three to five thousand people. In memory of the victims the Aquila Carnevale always take place on February 3, unlike all other Italian Carnevales whose date varies in function of Easter. Aquila's most recent earthquake took place on April 6, 2009 killing over three hundred people. This was the deadliest Italian earthquake in nearly thirty years.
There are many, many Carnevales in Abruzzi. A partial list of the cities and towns includes Civita Castellania, Poggio Mirteto (where it is known as Carnevale Liberato - Liberated Carnival), Lanciano, Citta Sant' Angelo, Francavilla, and Versila, the sometime home of opera composer Giacomo Puccini, poet, novelist, dramatist, and political Fascist Gabriele d'Annunzio, and Carlo Collodi who wrote Pinocchio. Yet with all this competition Francavilla al Mare's is still known as the "Carnevale d'Abruzzo."
Cicerchiata is the traditional Abruzzi Carnevale treat. It looks like peanut brittle but traditionally it is made from small beans known as Cicerchie, which unfortunately are getting harder and harder to find. Increasingly the beans are replaced by fried dough. Besides the beans (or dough) the recipe calls for butter, sugar, eggs, and white wine and for the frying, what else but olive oil? Note to dieters, the traditional recipe calls for frying the mixture in one inch of olive oil. This delicious dish is held together by a mixture of honey, sugar, and minced candied fruits. Accompany Cicerchiata with a Verdicchio white wine from the neighboring Marches region or even better, a Falanghina white wine from the Campania region to the southwest.
Over the years Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet but simply prefers drinking fine Italian or other wine, with the right foods. He teaches a variety of computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his Italian travel website http://www.travelitalytravel.com which includes information on Italian wine and food.