I Love Italian Travel – Latium Carnevale Season
The Latium region of central Italy (also called Lazio) hosts several Carnevale including those at Frascati, Ronciglione, and of course in the regional capital, Rome. Frascati is a town of about twenty thousand, situated some twenty kilometers (about twelve miles) southeast of Rome in the Alban hills. It is known for international science laboratories and sometimes, but not always, its wines. Frascati’s Carnival is quite unusual; it ends with the burning at the stake of Pulcinella (also known as Punch or Punchinello). There is even a traditional poem devoted to “His Majesty the Carnival”.
HISTORYCAL CARNIVAL: Every year it ends up badly: he gets burned, he is tossed in a gorge, he is tried and condemned to death after a strange public ritual, he drowns in the sea, he undergoes a funny vivisection, he is buried, he is cast out, eventually he is abandoned in a balloon in the sky.
Ronciglione is situated about sixty kilometers (forty miles) north of Rome in the Cimini mountains. It is home to fewer than ten thousand people. The Ronciglione Carnevale is based on the Roman Renaissance Baroque Carnival. After the “Big Bell” is rung, the keys to the city (town) are presented to King Carnival. Then come the Barbary races, the “Saltarello”(jumping dance), the allegorical floats, and the sad ritual of the Carnival’s death with the final “Moccolata,” a jumping dance.
Then it’s on to Rome, almost in the center of Latium, not far from the center of Italy, and according to many, the center of the world. Roma has a long Carnival tradition. In fact, during the Renaissance the Roman Carnival was even famous in all Europe than the Venetian one. Alexandre Dumas entitled Chapter 36 of his famous book, “The Count of Monte Cristo” the Carnival at Rome. But over the centuries Roman authorities abandoned the city celebrations.
Happily, Carnevale has returned to Rome, the city hosts more than thirty events which are located all over Rome. Activities include circus horses that jump through flames, masquerades, fireworks, open-air theaters, folklore dances and parades with floats that keep Rome humming for about eight days. Don’t miss out on the “Castagnole,” traditional Carnival cakes. There are activities for all ages. You’ll get a chance to tour the Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne and Palazzo Sfroza Cesarini (both located on Corso Vittorio Emanuele) that present dance and music performances and offer costumed tour guides. One of the highlights comes on Sunday afternoon (check the events calendar), an equestrian show in the Piazza del Popolo that showcases Cossack riding purebred Berber horses. And you’ll see “Horseball”, a kind of basketball played on horseback.