21 February 2007

il Carnevale

Carnevale Ascolano 2007

Ascoli Piceno celebrates il Carnevale in a big way with a definite family orientation. The city’s grand showcase, Piazza del Popolo, is turned into a huge ballroom with chandeliers suspended high above the travertine floor. When we lived in the United States I was familiar with il Carnevale in Venezia with the colorful masks and costumes, as well as the debauchery that seemed to be represented by Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Brazil. Here in Ascoli it is all about the kids having fun and the adults making fun of each other.

Il Carnevale started last Thursday with kids from the local schools dressing in matching costumes and marching from Piazza Arringo to Piazza del Popolo, where each group took a turn performing a skit for the gathered populace –it was reported in the newspapers to have involved 16,000 school children. The piazza was full of kids of all ages chasing each other and just enjoying themselves. This was followed by another day Friday with kids in costumes and a theatrical show in Piazza del Popolo put on for their benefit, complete with flying acrobatics suspended from balloons. Saturday was yet another day for the kids, this time the teenagers playing soccer with brooms in Piazza del Popolo. Confetti was everywhere, and spray cans of Sily String and a foam gunk were popular with the younger set.

Sunday started the time for the adults to have their fun in mascherine, or costume. Small stages started to pop-up along the edges of the piazze and the streets in-between, and we knew something was up. Sunday night Piazza Arringo and Piazza del Popolo were packed with a mix of people masquerading and those just wanting to gawk, (we were among the gawkers). These costumes are not “off the rack” outfits, as whole families dress alike or there will be groups of friends who dress to make fun of local politicians or political events, both recent and past. They are not just static costumes but many are theatrical presentations which draw crowds to watch the performance. Some groups roam the streets looking for unsuspecting gawkers to draw into their charade.

Monday was a break for the adults while the ragazzi enjoyed an afternoon concert session in Piazza del Popolo with twelve local bands performing. It was interesting to see the number of older folks who came out to see what all the noise from the heavy metal groups was all about, and yet still seemed to enjoy themselves.

Tuesday was the final night of il Carnevale before Ash Wednesday with many of the same outfits as Sunday, but also some new additions. For the adults, it seemed that men dressing in drag was a popular theme, or perhaps the women are too shy to participate. We saw several representations of the sindaco, or mayor, as well as the local police and one of il Papa (the Pope) and his entourage. This first experience to witness il Carnevale in such a playful atmosphere was a delight for us.

For tours of Ascoli Piceno visit Panorama Italy.
You can view more on the city’s web-site for il Carnivale: il carnevale di ascoli.

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