Monday, February 09, 2009

CARNIVAL AT ACIREALE



Italian students tend not to believe me when I tell them that we do not, in Britain, have Carnevale as they know it. I do explain to them that we have Shrove Tuesday and that many people still observe Lent, but they continue to pity us for not having February Carnival and the fun that goes with it. It would only confuse them to say that we have processions known as Carnival at other times of the year, as for them Carnival takes place before Lent and that is that. If we look at the etymology of the word, we can hardly blame them: Carnevale - either a corruption of Italian carne levare, the withdrawal of meat or a joining together of Latin carne and vale, a farewell to meat. [As a linguist I favour the second theory.]

Despite the shaking of heads and mutterings of "Gente strana, gli Inglesi" ["Strange people, the English" - sorry, but even the Celts among us are Inglesi here] Modica has no real Carnival tradition. However, the catanese town of Acireale certainly does, so that is where I headed with Rosa and Fulvio yesterday. Indeed, the good citizens of Acireale, not to be outdone by the Venetians, hold their Carnival over two weeks as well and it is reputed to be the best in Sicily.

The floats are divided into three categories: allegorical, flower and miniature. The competition for best float in each of these takes place between the various cantieri [associations of artisans]. This Sunday it was the turn of the allegorical floats to be on show and eventually to parade. The tradition of allegorical floats began in fifteenth century Italy but not until the seventeenth century in Sicily. The tradition of using papier-mâché for these floats in Acireale began there in the nineteenth century.

Before making our way to Piazza Duomo to see the floats we went for a relaxing stroll in the park, from which you can gaze at the sea to your heart's content. My headdress is just what was needed to set off my new hairdo, don't you think?





Now I'll just let you enjoy looking at the floats, as we did, and I'll shut up, for a change, until you get to the end!






























Quite a feast for the eyes, wasn't it? I'm afraid there wasn't time to find out exactly what each float represented, though some are obvious. Several floats were already moving as I took the pictures. However, I can tell you that the float shown in the last three pictures was named Vorrei la pelle nera [I Want to be Black] a reference to Nino Ferrer's 1967 hit, an extraordinary song for its time. The float's theme was the plight of children born in less fortunate parts of the world than Western Europe.

Sabrina Marinangeli - La pelle nera


And now those of you who read to the end get to see the best photo of all:

28 comments:

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

I do love Carnevale! I so wish I could go south this year to New Orleans for Mardi Gras! (sigh)

cb said...

Great pictures! Thanks for sharing.. it looks like a fantastic time was had

Dragonstar said...

What a colourful scene. Just what's needed at this time of year.

I loved the photo of you in your head-dress, and then I saw the last photo. Sorry Welshcakes, Simi outshines everyone!

Lost in Sicily said...

Lovely photos! As soon as we are over the horrible flu which has struck my household we'll be heading over to catch some of the floats in person. Thank goodness it lasts two weeks!

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Well done to the Italians...they really know how to put on a Carnival..and they have so much fun. It looks so exciting.

I don't think I have ever seen a procession in the UK..well at least I don't remember, so it can't of been brilliant..

Pleased you had a great time!! Tell your students to come over here and do a carnival for us, wow that would be fun!!

Antonio Patricolo said...

Ciao Patrizia !

Ti faccio i miei migliori auguri per il tuo compleanno!

Ci sentiamo presto.

Saluti

Tony Patricolo

CherryPie said...

It looks like great fun was had by all and I love that picture of Simi :-)

jmb said...

What a wonderful outing for you Welshcakes. The floats are so colourful.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Nick. I would love to see that, too. Hi, cb. Yes, it was great. Hi, dragonstar. Simi says she admires your judgement! Hi, Lost. Sorry you've all got 'flu. Hope you're better soon and get to the Carnival. Hi, Anne. They sure do. I will tell the students. Ciao, Antonio. Grazie per gli auguri. Si, ci sentiamo.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Cherie and jmb. It was a wonderful day. Simi sends love and wags xx

Flutterby said...

Have never been to carnival in New Orleans but have been to one in Nice. It was definitely colorful and joyful. I assume Simi didn't go to Acireale but she could have lead the parade.

Gledwood said...

a~HAA! I've a video to post that is straight out of that carnival

Simi really does remind me of Itchy... same colour fur (well almost) and same expression

Liz said...

I agree:simi makes the best photo.

What an incredible amount of work must go into those floats.

It looked quite cold there too.

kissa said...

These are such happy colourful photos. You can let your students know that in Cornwall many carnivals take place with each village or town having festivities in the later part of the summer or autumn. One village we lived in even had a carnival in November! Simi obvously had just had too much of a good thing ........aahhh!

James Higham said...

Adore the headgear - it's certainly colourful where you were.

Rowena said...

She IS the best photo of them all! Thank you for enlightening me on the etymology of carnevale -- carne e vale...this I did not know!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Flutterby. I'll suggest Simi for leading the Parade next year! Coming to have a look at the video. I'll tell Simi she reminds you of cute little Itchy. Hi, Liz. Simi will be flattered. I was thinking how much work went into those floats, too. It was cold by Sicilian standards but at least the rain held off. Hi, kissa. I will tell them. simi was having siesta! Glad the headgear meets with your approval, James. It was very colourful. Hi, Rowena. I'll tell simi you said so, too - she'll like that. I love etymology.

Betty (picture circa 1954) said...

Such color! Looks like a lot of fun. The headress was perfect on both of you!

annechung said...

I remember the duomo in Acireale. According to Anthony Blunt in his book "Sicilian Baroque" the facade in the duomo in Acireale is exceptional, I had to go see and it was. Your pictures has glimpses of the duomo and it brought back incredible memories.

Winchester whisperer said...

Buona fiesta WL (and Simi)!

Trubes said...

What wonderful pictures Welshcakes, love the headgear too!
You look very cute in yours but Simi wins first prize. She too has lovely hair, just love her waves!

Di.xx

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thanks, Betty. It was great fun. Hi, Anne. It's a lovely Cathedral. I had visited it once before. I'm glad it brought back good memories for you. I couldn't get any closer to it on Sunday!
Hi, dear Trubes. I know ... Simi has the loveliest coat and it's so lovely to cuddle up to her on a cold night like this. Love to you and dear Chloe. xx

Ellee Seymour said...

Wow, this is fabulous. Simi looks terrific. And you also look very exotic in your pic by the sea.

Nunyaa said...

Ms Simi looks very cute. How extraordinary are those floats? I have never seen any like it before, quite a bit of work in them. Lovely.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, nunyaa. I will tell Miss Simi. The floats were much more spectacular than I expected. They must take an amazing amount of work. How are you?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thanks, Ellee. Simi is pleased that everyone likes her photo.

Ardent said...

I read this post the other day but did not have time to comment.

The carnival looks so colourful and exciting. The sky was a brilliant blue, your head gear was so appropriate.

I am glad you had so much fun.

The head gear looks good on Simi also. :)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thanks, Ardent. It was great fun. I'll tell Simi you like her headgear!

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