My life in Italy – an American in Ascoli Piceno #1

Carnival in Italy, il Carnevale di Ascoli Piceno

 

Fun Facts #1
My life in Italy
Part 1
Italy celebrates Carnevale with a huge winter festival celebrated with parades, masquerade balls, entertainment, music and parties.
Children throw confetti at each other. Mischief and pranks are also common during Carnevale, hence the saying
A Carnevale ogni scherzo vale” (anything goes at Carnevale).
Although, I have personally never experienced the festival, I have seen it on tv before. I can’t wait!
As always, different regions celebrate the holiday in different ways:
-Venice being the most spectacular with boat parades and masquerade balls starting weeks before.
-Viareggio on the Tuscany coast has one of the biggest Carnevale celebrations in Italy. It’s known for its giant, allegorical paper maiché floats used in parades not only on FAT  Tuesday but also the three Sundays before and two weekends following.
-The town of Ivrea, in the Piedmont region, has a unique carnival celebration with medieval roots. The carnival includes a colorful parade followed by orange-throwing battles in the center of town.

This year, I will stick to the many things that are offered right here, in and around Ascoli Piceno!

 

Fun facts #2
My life in Italy 
Aahhh… Carnevale! Ma che spettacolo!

What an incredible experience it was!

It was almost as if the festival was sort of a convention for small acts (on the Humour side)

some with representation of either characters well-known,

(through TV and movies) or simply a local joke, told in the local Ascolan dialect! 

Soon after the festival, during my Italian class at Accademia Italiana our teacher Valeria, explained to us the many inside jokes that were present at the festival and their meanings.

 

For Example, we saw a group of grown men in women’s bathing suits performing a synchronized swimming act that was truly adorable. On the side of the stage there was written “andiamo a rifare una vasca in piazza”.

Valeria explained that the meaning comes from the older times in Ascoli when the city was smaller and many locals would meet in the Main Square (Piazza del Popolo) in order to “walk laps” up and down the square to socialize amongst one another. Hence laps, like a swimming pool, and so became the idea of the swimming skit and all of it’s humor. 

 

During the festival, we also noticed a lady walking around

with a big pile of whipped cream on her head.

Valeria explained that in Italian “montarsi la testa

refers to the act of being a snob or feeling that one is above everyone.

The pile of whipped cream  gave the idea of the joke

because to whip the cream “montare la panna” uses the same verb (montare).

Many of these jokes from the local culture are similar to puns

and are very funny when one knows the inside story!

Fun facts #3
My life in Italy 
Let me tell you…. I have never seen so many drunk people in all my life in one place as I did tonight!
These Italians don’t mess around when it comes to Fat Tuesday on the last day before Lent…
I am in a neighboring town called Offida where they speak, yet again, their own dialect (called Offidano)
… and tonight’s festivity is called Li Vlurd.
The Vlurd are long bundles of wicker and straw, that are lit and paraded along the streets of Offida.
Hundreds of people take part to this event, so the streets look like a fiery snake
(which makes sense, since name of the town – Offida – derives from Greek “Ophis”, meaning serpent).
The Vlurd are then thrown into a huge bonfire in the main piazza, and people dance around it, singing and drinking.
When the flames start to die down, the bravest (or the drunkest) jump the flames and hop around on the burning coals. The party goes on until the bonfire dies, sanctioning the end of the Carnival and the beginning of a new season, Spring, which will bring new life. We danced awhile and laughed at the many intoxicated locals enjoying their last night of sinful fun!

 

2 Comments to “My life in Italy – an American in Ascoli Piceno #1”

  1. Thank you for your article. Can I ask what dates is the festival on in Ascoli Piceno?

    Thanks.

    1. Genrally in February but it depends on the date of the Easter!

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