I Love Italian Travel - Basilicata Carnevale Season
Basilicata sits in the south of Italy with a tiny coastline on the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west and a somewhat larger one on the Gulf of Taranto to the south. This is one of the least prosperous, most traditional regions of Italy. All the more reason to visit, especially during Carnevale.
The major Basilicata Carnevale is located in the town of Tricarico, population 6 thousand. This festival is traditional. Children and adults parade in costume, cow and bull outfits are always popular. Carnevale begins on Sant'Antonio Abate day named for an Egyptian abbot who is widely honored in southern Italy. Starting at 5 o'clock masked participants rally in Piazza Garibaldi before proceeding to the Sant'Antonio Abate church. By the way, we're talking about 5 in the morning, not 5 in the afternoon. This day is fully packed with activities for people of all ages. There is even a midnight celebration that I am told goes until the wee hours of the morning.
Then things are quiet for a few weeks, interrupted by an olive festival with tasty food and later on the Festival of "skrpedd and r'a sauzezz" (festival of the pancake and sausage) in the old town accompanied by local wine and music. Basilicata's finest wine is Aglianico de Vulture DOC, but you may enjoy many of the lesser-known local wines.
The Tricarico Carnevale continues on the following Sunday, starting at 9 in the morning. Once again the focus is on the herd. You'll be busy all day. After the parade of allegorical floats there's a trial and Carnevale is sentenced and killed. The evening ends with a folk music concert and fireworks. Basilicata is home to many other Carnevales. The village of Rapone, population 1200, celebrates with traditional singing and dancing. Spectators offer sausage and wine to the performers. On Shrove Tuesday everyone eats homemade pasta (orecchiette, fusilli, and cavatelli) flavored with a special sauce. The village of Cirigliano, population 450, Carnevale's highlight is the final Sunday. Twelve people in traditional costumes represent the months of the year. What they wear and what they carry evoke the months' climatic conditions. Four other young men typify the seasons. On the final Carnevale Sunday the village of Aliano, population 1300, hosts the Frase, which is a play freely commenting on local events and personalities of the preceding year. The young actors wear bells, animal harnesses, and a "horn mask" made from papier mache, clay, and rooster feathers to symbolize diabolical forces. And don't miss the traditional activity in which local men festooned in papier mache masks, hats covered with streamers, wearing long underwear and cow bells, parade down the village main street, throw flour at the crowds and grunt all the while.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but he prefers drinking fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods and people. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his Italian travel website http://www.travelitalytravel.com which includes information on Italian wine and food.