Topsy-turvy Carnevale in Sicily

Today is the final day of Carnevale! My cousin Francesca was in Sciacca this past weekend and took this photo. Sciacca boasts one of the leading celebrations in Sicily and Italy. Locals will tell you it’s been presented for centuries. Carnevale is the last hurrah before the planting season and before Lent, when many traditionally give up meat and get back to work. (Carne means “meat” or “flesh”… and you know what that means… wink, wink.) It’s a topsy-turvy time when people dress in costumes (to hide their identity) and practice mischief (in more ways than one!).

In Sciacca and in Acireale, Sicily, teams of townspeople prepare for months for Carnevale. Like for Halloween in our culture, people plan their costumes too for months. This float from this year’s party in Sciacca shows Italy’s political leaders including former president Berlusconi and current prime minister Conte (not pictured are League leader Matteo Salvini and Five Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio who are joyfully riding a motorcycle over the other two leaders). These papier mache’ floats are animated with much movement. At night they light up fantastically. The floats are often accompanied by dancers and actors in outrageous costumes that perform both in front and around the carriage as well as on the main stage of the event.

Floats are processed throughout the town and offer some kind of satirical comment on current events–often way over my head, even though I follow Italian news daily. The comments on society can be profound. For example, there’s a theme of Spain and oranges going on here, which is close to this region of Sicily’s heart because their orange cultivation and exporting has been routed due to the EU giving Spain’s oranges priority over Sicily’s on the world market.

(Thank you Francesca!)

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