Ilaria D'Onofrio Program Assistant, Rome Center


February 28, 2019

The more the day are getting longer and warmer, the more is Carnival in Italy getting closer. It is a popular event all around the world, which derives from the catholic religion. Nevertheless, it seems that in Italy has become a big part of the culture and the identity of Italian population, so it is important to discover the origins and characteristics of this festivity which this year has its peak from the 28th of February to the 5th of March.


In the ancient Roman empire this period was dedicated to the celebration of the end of the cold winter and the beginning of spring. As a result, the whole population (including slaves) used to express their joy taking parts at huge and quite spectacular feasts with mountains of food and wine. With the passing of time and the spreading of catholic region the festivity has been linked with the Quaresima (Lent) period, the forty days of penance before Easter. Before its beginning people wanted to celebrate their freedoms in days full of parties and spreading joy, without following social rules: men dressed as women, pour people dressed as rich people… As Italian would say:

E' lecito essere folli una volta l’anno!

– It is fair to be crazy once a year!


Today this joyful and wild atmosphere is still part and parcels of Carnival festivity, especially in cities like Venice and Viareggio: you will see children and adults wearing colorful masks walking in the streets, doing pranks, throwing confetti and doing wonderful parade around the city. During the weekend there will be costume party in every club to let people have fun in one of the craziest period of the year. As always, Italian cuisine includes some typical food for this festivity, which can vary from one Italian region to another:
- Frappe: is probably the most famous in Italy and has different names like Chiacchiere, Bugie, Frappole and so on. Is practically a slice of sweet dough which is shaped as a little bow and then fried or cooked in the oven.
- Castagnole: typical dessert of Lazio region, where balls of dough and alchermes (a red liquor) are fried and covered with sugar;
- Arancini di Carnevale: a dessert typical of Marche region, a fried pastry rolled as a spinning top with orange flavor. 
- Cicerchiata: typical of the center of Italy, is a dessert made by sweet little balls od dough immersed in honey and assembled together to create a circular cake.

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