One of the most colorful of all the holidays and perhaps wildest, is Carnevale. Each region has a different way of celebrating some more famous than others.
Nearby in Tuscany, we have a huge parade in Viareggio, which I have attended and adored. Huge floats made from paper machè on large structures, often with moving parts, are accompanied by a team of costumed dancers leading the way down the parade route. People from the sidelines walk though no problem, many of them also come in costume. Viareggio is on the coast and has tons of space to walk around as well as escape down to the beach area. The symbol of Viareggio carnevale is Berlingaccio, the name of a figure of the Commedia dell’Arte, from early classic Italian theatre.
Venice has ornate costumes and it is held both on the land and in the water. Locals take their boats our and wear full costume for their parades on the canal.
Towns like Cento has a huge Brazilian style parade . Their sister city is Rio de Janiero in Brazil, and they send one of their groups to participate in the Rio celebrations.
Ivrea, they have a huge orange fight! Arcireale in Sicily does floats. In Lazio, Ronciglione also has a horse race. Sardegna to me has one of the most unusual, with their antiche costumes, scary guys with wooden masks, huge bells on the backs and wearing fur vests. Scary! There are so many more festivals in each region, if you are coming in winter, check out the region you are visiting and don’t miss it. Every town will have small celebratio where the kids come out in costume and walk around, the throw confetti in your face and spray each other with silly string. Don’t have your mouth open!
Each town celebrates in different ways on different days, so check their sites.
I of course like to check out the pastries. In Tuscany, we went to search out a “lost pastry” Berlingozzo from Lamporecchio. Most recipes online now show it as a high cake done in a ring mold, but this recipe dates back to the time of Lorenzo dei Medici, so has simple origins and the classic recipe is flat. This is made for Berlingaccio, the Thursday before Martedi Grasso ( Fat Tuesday) followed by Mercoledi delle Cenere,( Ash Wednesday) when Quaressima ( Lent) starts.
Lamporecchio is mostly famous for their cookies called Brigidini, which are thin wafers flavored with anice, originally cooked on irons over the flames.They look like a potato chip but are a cookie.
They say that the Berlingozzo cake is another form of the Brigidini recipe, both have a delicate anice flavor.
Today they have it automized and market day and festivals always have ” il Chiccaio”, the candy man. The stand has a machine with brigidini coming off the press hot and he also usually he also has a small copper panning machine making fresh nut brittles, which he then cools on long marble tabletop.
350 gr. flour 00
3 whole eggs and 2 yolks
200 gr granulated sugar
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
grated lemon zest
1 package of Italian baking powder ( lievito in polvere)
pinch of salt
optional: crushed anise seeds for flavoring
Beat the eggs with the sugar, add the oil, salt, grated lemon zest.
Slowly add in the flour.
Stir in the milk, and lastly sprinkle in the baking powder and mix well.
Butter and flour a pan, tradtionally a pan with a hole in the middle, but flat on the bottom, not a bundt pan.
Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.
( The Brigidini recipe has crushed anise seeds if you would also like to add them.)